, Volume 43, Issue 5, pp 549–560 | Cite as

Effects of multiple Bt proteins and GNA lectin on in vitro-reared honey bee larvae

  • Harmen P. HendriksmaEmail author
  • Stephan Härtel
  • Dirk Babendreier
  • Werner von der Ohe
  • Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
Original article


The honey bee is a key non-target arthropod in environmental risk assessments of genetically modified crops. We analyzed for the first time combined effects of three Bt proteins conferring insect resistances, and a CP4-protein conferring an herbicide resistance as simultaneously expressed in one GM maize. Furthermore, the biosafety of Galanthus nivalis agglutinin (GNA lectin), a candidate protein for pest control was tested. Under worst-case exposure scenario, by using controlled in vitro larvae rearing, the combination of Bt proteins showed no adverse effects on bee larvae. In contrast, the GNA lectin was toxic at a 144 h LD50 of 16.3 μg/larva. The prepupal weight was found to differ between the larvae collection days and between the colonies used for the experiment, explaining up to five times more data variance than the protein treatments (N = 709 prepupae). In conclusion, neither single nor a mix of different Bt proteins were found harmful to honey bee larvae.


Apis mellifera Bacillus thuringiensis environmental risk assessment genetically modified crops Cry protein 



This is publication No. 1 produced within the project Assessing and Monitoring the Impacts of Genetically Modified Plants on Agro-ecosystems (AMIGA), funded by the European Commission in the Framework programme 7. THEME [KBBE.2011.3.5-01]. This study was also funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung BMBF, project 0315215E). The experiments were performed at the Universities of Bayreuth and Würzburg (Bavaria).

Supplementary material

13592_2012_123_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2.6 mb)
Supplement P Photographs of the in vitro rearing experiments (PDF 2709 kb)
13592_2012_123_MOESM2_ESM.doc (44 kb)
Supplement S Post hoc survival statistics between treatment differences (DOC 44 kb)
13592_2012_123_MOESM3_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplement W Post hoc statistics on prepupal weight (DOC 32 kb)


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Copyright information

© INRA, DIB and Springer-Verlag, France 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harmen P. Hendriksma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stephan Härtel
    • 1
  • Dirk Babendreier
    • 2
  • Werner von der Ohe
    • 3
  • Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology, BiocentreUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.CABI-Europe SwitzerlandDelèmontSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institut für Bienenkunde (Institute for Apidology)LAVES (Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety)CelleGermany

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