Transgenic Resistance to the Colorado Potato Beetle in Bt-expressing Eggplant Fields

in HortScience

Colorado potato beetle (CPB; Leptinotarsa decemlineata-Say) is a serious pest because it has developed resistance against insecticides. Three transgenic eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) lines bearing a mutagenized Bacillus thuringiensis Berl. gene coding for the Cry3B toxin, and the nontransformed control DR2-line were tested in field trials to assess their insect resistance. The transgenic lines 3-2, 6-1, and 9-8 were tested at two different locations in a randomized complete-block design. Samples were taken biweekly to assess the level of CPB and the presence of other insects. At harvest, total yield and fruit number per plot were recorded. Two transgenic lines showed high levels of resistance at both locations, as measured by CPB abundance and yield. Fruit production was almost twice as great in the highly resistant lines (3-2 and 9-8) as in the nontransformed control. The 6-1 transgenic line showed an intermediate level of resistance; it was similar to the control under heavy CPB pressure and was comparable to the other transgenic lines under milder infestations. Analysis by double antibody sandwich–enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (DAS–ELISA), performed on different tissues, revealed a lower amount of Cry3B protein in the 6-1 transgenic line than in lines 3-2 and 9-8. No detrimental effects on nontarget arthropods (including the chrysomelid Altica) were evident. Field observations confirmed that Bt may be able to control CPB infestation in eggplant, representing a potential effective and environmentally safe means of pest control.

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