Free access
Volume 34, Number 2, March-April 2003
Page(s) 139 - 145
Apidologie 34 (2003) 139-145
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2003003

Environmental risk assessment of transgene products using honey bee (Apis mellifera) larvae

Henrik F. Brodsgaard, Camilla J. Brodsgaard, Henrik Hansen and Gábor L. Lövei

Department of Crop Protection, Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Research Centre Flakkebjerg, 4200 Slagelse, Denmark
(Received 3 January 2002; revised 25 June 2002; accepted 30 August 2002)

An environmental concern regarding the cultivation of transgenic crop plants is their effect on non-target organisms. Honey bees are obvious non-target arthropods to be included in a risk assessment procedure but due to their complex social behaviour, testing transgene products on individual bees is not possible in bee colonies. We employed a laboratory larval rearing technique to test the impacts of such transgene products on honey bees. A serine proteinase inhibitor (Kunitz Soybean Trypsin Inhibitor, SBTI), that is a source of insect resistance in transgenic plants, was used as a model insecticidal protein on honey bee larvae reared individually in the laboratory. The addition of 1.0% SBTI (w:w of total protein) to the larval diet created significant additional larval mortality, slowed juvenile development and significantly decreased adult body mass. Our results suggest that the larval rearing technique can be used to monitor direct side-effects of transgene products on individual honey bee larvae.

Key words: Apis mellifera / risk assessment / larval rearing / transgenic plants / proteinase inhibitor

Correspondence and reprints: Henrik F. Brodsgaard

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2003