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Volume 33, Number 5, September-October 2002
Page(s) 447 - 458

Apidologie 33 (2002) 447-458
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2002030

Effects of ingestion of a biotin-binding protein on adult and larval honey bees

Louise A. Malonea, Emma L. Tregidgaa, Jacqui H. Todda, Elisabeth P.J. Burgessa, Bruce A. Philipa, Ngaire P. Markwicka, Joanne Poultona, John T. Christellerb, Melissa T. Lesterb and Heather S. Gatehouseb

a  Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited, Mt Albert Research Centre, Private Bag 92169, Auckland, New Zealand
b  Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Limited, Palmerston North Research Centre, Private Bag 11030, Palmerston North, New Zealand

(Received 30 October 2001; revised 25 March 2002; accepted 12 April 2002)

The insecticidal properties of biotin-binding proteins (BBPs) have recently been exploited in transgenic plants. As BBPs have a broad spectrum of insect toxicity, their potential impacts on non-target insects such as honey bees need to be assessed. In this study, the effects of feeding a purified BBP, avidin, to honey bee larvae and adults were determined. A realistic larval dosing regime was developed by estimating the pollen content of brood food in the field and adding avidin to artificial diet at rates that simulated the presence of avidin-expressing transgenic pollen in brood food. Larval survival and development were unaffected by avidin in assays which simulated larvae receiving pollen expressing 0, 4 or 40 $\mu$M avidin at concentrations of 164 $\mu$g pollen per mg food for the first 2 days and 880 $\mu$g pollen per mg food thereafter. Food consumption and survival of adult bees were also unaffected by avidin added to pollen-candy at levels corresponding to pollen expression of 0, 6.7 or 20 $\mu$M avidin.

Key words: Apis mellifera / biotin-binding protein / avidin / transgenic plant

Correspondence and reprints: Louise A. Malone

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2002