Infestation of Transgenic Powdery Mildew-Resistant Wheat by Naturally Occurring Insect Herbivores Under Different Environmental Conditions

PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22690. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022690. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

Abstract

A concern associated with the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops is that they could adversely affect non-target organisms. We assessed the impact of several transgenic powdery mildew-resistant spring wheat lines on insect herbivores. The GM lines carried either the Pm3b gene from hexaploid wheat, which confers race-specific resistance to powdery mildew, or the less specific anti-fungal barley seed chitinase and β-1,3-glucanase. In addition to the non-transformed control lines, several conventional spring wheat varieties and barley and triticale were included for comparison. During two consecutive growing seasons, powdery mildew infection and the abundance of and damage by naturally occurring herbivores were estimated under semi-field conditions in a convertible glasshouse and in the field. Mildew was reduced on the Pm3b-transgenic lines but not on the chitinase/glucanase-expressing lines. Abundance of aphids was negatively correlated with powdery mildew in the convertible glasshouse, with Pm3b wheat plants hosting significantly more aphids than their mildew-susceptible controls. In contrast, aphid densities did not differ between GM plants and their non-transformed controls in the field, probably because of low mildew and aphid pressure at this location. Likewise, the GM wheat lines did not affect the abundance of or damage by the herbivores Oulema melanopus (L.) and Chlorops pumilionis Bjerk. Although a previous study has revealed that some of the GM wheat lines show pleiotropic effects under field conditions, their effect on herbivorous insects appears to be low.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascomycota / genetics
  • Ascomycota / pathogenicity*
  • Chitinases / metabolism
  • Coleoptera / physiology*
  • Environment
  • Herbivory
  • Hordeum / genetics
  • Hordeum / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified / microbiology*
  • Spores, Fungal / pathogenicity*
  • Triticum / genetics*
  • Triticum / microbiology*

Substances

  • Chitinases