Modifications in dispersal and oviposition of Bt-resistant and Bt-susceptible Colorado potato beetles as a result of exposure to Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. tenebrionis Cry3A toxin



Laboratory strains of Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say), physiologically resistant and susceptible to Bacillus thuringiensis (Berliner) subsp. tenebrionis Cry3A toxin were reared to adults on caged potato plants. Influence of three different diets (transgenic potatoes, regular potatoes, and regular potatoes followed by the transgenic potatoes) on beetle mortality, fecundity, and flight behavior were tested under laboratory conditions. A computer-linked flight mill system was used to quantify beetle flight, and dissections were performed to determine the level of flight muscle development. Susceptible beetles continuously fed on transgenic foliage suffered heavy mortality, did not develop flight muscles, and did not produce any eggs. Resistant beetles continuously fed on transgenic foliage were capable of flight and reproduction; however, it took them longer to initiate flight behavior, and their fecundity was lower than fecundity of other treatments. In both strains, detrimental effects became significantly less severe when the beetles were allowed to feed on regular foliage prior to toxin ingestion. In the resistant strain, ingestion of Cry3A toxin significantly increased flight activity, indicating that physiological resistance was probably reinforced by the behavioral escape from toxic environments. No such response was observed for susceptible beetles. When fed on regular foliage, resistant Colorado potato beetles engaged in significantly fewer flights than susceptible beetles. Behavioral differences between resistant and susceptible beetles observed in the present study are likely to affect gene flow between transgenic crops and adjacent refugia, and should be taken in consideration when designing resistance management plans for transgenic potato crops.