Med. Weter. 68 (10), 630-633, 2012

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Grabowski M., Dąbrowski Z.T.
Evaluation of the impact of the toxic protein CRY1Ab expressed by the genetically modified cultivar MON810 on honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) behavior
Pollinators play a crucial role in natural ecosystems by maintaining both the biodiversity of wild plants and agricultural activity. In modern agriculture health problems affecting honey bee populations have resulted in an increased exploitation of alternative pollinators such as bumblebees. When Bt products are used, either as sprays or transgenic crops, non-target organisms such as pollinators may be exposed to the Cry proteins via contact or through ingestion of contaminated pollen and nectar. The cultivation of transgenic crops, e.g. maize, raises concerns among different social groups. Even in scientific bee journals there have appeared articles saying that bees might avoid collecting pollen and/or nectar from such plants. Therefore, the aim of our research was to assess the potential negative influence of the genetically modified maize MON810 expressing Cry1Ab – a protein toxic to the most serious lepidopteran pest, the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) [Hübner] (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) – on the behavior of the honey bee in conditions of the limited possible choice of a host plant. The insect material was one honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) family in a hive, which included a queen and approximately 800 worker bees. The honey bees were from the Apiculture Division, Faculty of Animal Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences. The plant material consisted of transgenic maize (Zea mays L.) plants DKC3421 Yield Gard (event MON810) from the Monsanto Company (St. Louis, MO, USA), expressing a gene encoding a truncated form of the Cry1Ab protein derived from B. thuringiensis Berliner, and the corresponding near-isogenic hybrid (DKC 3420). This research has not revealed any significant differences in the number of honey bees visiting the two maize cultivars that would be caused by the potential negative impact of the genetically modified maize MON810.
Key words: bees, pollinators, agroecosystem, MON810, Cry