Tri-trophic interactions involving pest aphids, predatory 2-spot ladybirds and transgenic potatoes expressing snowdrop lectin for aphid resistance
- Cite this article as:
- Birch, A.N.E., Geoghegan, I.E., Majerus, M.E. et al. Molecular Breeding (1999) 5: 75. doi:10.1023/A:1009659316170
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Transgenic crops genetically engineered for enhanced insect resistance should be compatible with other components of IPM for the pest resistance to be durable and effective. An experimental potato line was genetically engineered to express an anti-aphid plant protein (snowdrop lectin, GNA), and assessed for possible interactions of the insect resistance gene with a beneficial pest predator. These extended laboratory studies are the first to demonstrate adverse tri-trophic interactions involving a lectin- expressing transgenic crop, a target pest aphid and a beneficial aphidophagous predator. When adult 2-spot ladybirds (Adalia bipunctata[L.]) were fed for 12 days on peach-potato aphids (Myzus persicae Sulzer) colonising transgenic potatoes expressing GNA in leaves, ladybird fecundity, egg viability and longevity significantly decreased over the following 2–3 weeks. No acute toxicity due to the transgenic plants was observed, although female ladybird longevity was reduced by up to 51%. Adverse effects on ladybird reproduction, caused by eating peach-potato aphids from transgenic potatoes, were reversed after switching ladybirds to feeding on pea aphids from non-transgenic bean plants. These results demonstrate that expression of a lectin gene for insect resistance in a transgenic potato line can cause adverse effects to a predatory ladybird via aphids in its food chain. The significance of these potential ecological risks under field conditions need to be further evaluated.