Background: Bt crops will face a new ecological risk of reduced effectiveness against target-insect pests owing to the general decrease in exogenous-toxin content in Bt crops grown under elevated carbon dioxide (CO2). The method chosen to deal with this issue may affect the sustainability of transgenic crops as an effective pest management tool, especially under future atmospheric CO2 level raising.
Methods: In this study, rhizobacterias, as being one potential biological regulator to enhance nitrogen utilization efficiency of crops, was selected and the effects of Bt maize (Line IE09S034 with Cry1Ie vs. its parental line of non-Bt maize Xianyu 335) infected by Azospirillum brasilense (AB) and Azotobacter chroococcum (AC) on the development and food utilization of the target Mythimna separate under ambient and double-ambient CO2 in open-top chambers from 2016 to 2017.
Results: The results indicated that rhizobacteria infection significantly increased the larval life-span, pupal duration, relative consumption rate and approximate digestibility of M. separata, and significantly decreased the pupation rate, pupal weight, adult longevity, fecundity, relative growth rate, efficiency of conversion of digested food and efficiency of conversion of ingested food of M. separata fed on Bt maize, while here were opposite trends in development and food utilization of M. separata fed on non-Bt maize infected with AB and AC compared with the control buffer in 2016 and 2017 regardless of CO2 level.
Discussion: Simultaneously, elevated CO2 and Bt maize both had negative influence on the development and food utilization of M. separata. Presumably, CO2 concentration arising in future significantly can increase their intake of food and harm to maize crop; however, Bt maize infected with rhizobacterias can reduce the field hazards from M. separata and the application of rhizobacteria infection can enhance the resistance of Bt maize against target lepidoptera pests especially under elevated CO2.
Keywords: Elevated CO2; Food utilization; Growth and development; Mythimna separata; Rhizobacteria; Transgenic Bt maize.