• Aphis gossypii;
  • feeding behaviour;
  • fitness;
  • fluctuating asymmetry;
  • non-target pest;
  • transgenic cotton

Abstract.  1. Transgenic crops have shown great promise for the control of target pest insects, but in some cases they can also influence non-target species. This study investigated the impact of Bt and Bt+CpTI transgenic cottons on the non-target cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii Glover, by comparing life-table parameters, feeding behaviour, and the fluctuating asymmetry of morphological traits of aphids reared on transgenic cotton and those on untransformed control plants.

2. Aphids on the Bt+CpTI cotton showed a shorter reproductive duration and maximum lifespan, lower survival rates and potential maximum fecundity, and an earlier occurrence of peak daily mortality in the first or second generation. However, the aphid population soon developed fitness and overcame the negative effect in the second or third generation. The aphids on the Bt cotton had significantly longer reproductive durations in the first generation, higher survival rates in the third generation, and apparently larger potential maximum fecundity in all three generations.

3. The percentages of accumulated duration of feeding waveforms E1 and E2 were significantly lower in aphids on the Bt+CpTI cotton than in those on the Bt or control cotton, whereas the frequencies of moving and finding feeding sites, and probe behaviour were significantly higher.

4. Fluctuating asymmetry in three morphological characters of aphids reared on transgenic and control cotton was detected. The fluctuating asymmetry value of the third segment of antenna in aphids on Bt+CpTI cotton was significantly higher than that of aphids on Bt or control cotton. Based on the fluctuating asymmetry value, the stress of cotton on the aphids could be ranked as Bt+CpTI cotton > Bt cotton > control cotton.