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Determination of insecticidal Cry1Ab protein in soil collected in the final growing seasons of a nine-year field trial of Bt-maize MON810

Abstract

Cultivation of genetically modified maize (Bt-maize; event MON810) producing recombinant δ-endotoxin Cry1Ab, leads to introduction of the insecticidal toxin into soil by way of root exudates and plant residues. This study investigated the fate of Cry1Ab in soil under long-term Bt-maize cultivation in an experimental field trial performed over nine growing seasons on four South German field sites cultivated with MON810 and its near isogenic non Bt-maize variety. Cry1Ab protein was quantified in soil (<2 mm size) using an in-house validated ELISA method. The assay was validated according to the criteria specified in European Commission Decision 2002/657/EC. The assay enabled quantification of Cry1Ab protein at a decision limit (CCα) of 2.0 ng Cry1Ab protein g−1 soil with analytical recovery in the range 49.1–88.9%, which was strongly correlated with clay content. Cry1Ab protein was only detected on one field site at concentrations higher than the CCα, with 2.91 and 2.57 ng Cry1Ab protein g−1 soil in top and lower soil samples collected 6 weeks after the eighth growing season. Cry1Ab protein was never detected in soil sampled in the spring before the next farming season at any of the four experimental sites. No experimental evidence for accumulation or persistence of Cry1Ab protein in different soils under long-term Bt-maize cultivation can be drawn from this field study.

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Acknowledgments

The research project was supported by the State of Bavaria. We thank the staff at the Bavarian experimental stations Baumannshof, Puch, Neuhof, and Grub for their engaged contribution to this work. We gratefully acknowledge the excellent technical assistance of S. Gellan and helpful support by U. Ziegltrum and J. Karpf. We are very thankful for the contributions of R. Brandhuber from the Institute for Agricultural Ecology, Organic Farming and Soil Protection (Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture) and from J. Kler, who performed the soil-texture analysis.

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Correspondence to Helga Gruber.

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Gruber, H., Paul, V., Meyer, H.H.D. et al. Determination of insecticidal Cry1Ab protein in soil collected in the final growing seasons of a nine-year field trial of Bt-maize MON810. Transgenic Res 21, 77–88 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11248-011-9509-7

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Keywords

  • Soil
  • Genetically modified maize
  • Bt-maize MON810
  • Long-term field trial
  • Cry1Ab protein
  • Biosafety
  • ELISA