Free Access
Volume 31, Number 1, January-Febuary 2000
Page(s) 25 - 38
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2000104

Apidologie 31 (2000) 25-38

Effects of four protease inhibitors on the survival of worker bumblebees, Bombus terrestris L.

Louise Anne Malone, Elisabeth Phyllis June Burgess, Dragana Stefanovic,
Heather Sian Gatehouse

Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Ltd, Mt Albert Research Centre, Private Bag 92 169, Auckland, New Zealand

(Received 28 May 1998; revised 18 August 1999; accepted 26 August 1999)


To assess risks posed by transgenic pest-resistant plants, a bumblebee bioassay system was developed. Small and large adults of Bombus terrestris were held individually or in groups of 5, 10 or 20 in cages and survival and rates of pollen, sugar and water consumption determined. Effects on bee survival of Kunitz soybean trypsin inhibitor (SBTI), bovine pancreatic trypsin inhibitor (BPTI) and two potato protease inhibitors, POT-1 and POT-2, were determined. SBTI (10 mg.g-1) and POT-1 (10 and 5 mg.g-1) reduced survival significantly. Bees fed POT-2 (10 mg.g-1) had poorer survival than those fed 0.1 or 0.01 mg.g-1 POT-2. BPTI had no effect. Untreated bee midguts had elastase-like (283.0 $\pm$ 16.9 nmol.min-1.g-1 gut), chymotrypsin (148.5 $\pm$ 8.4), trypsin (27.2 $\pm$ 2.8) and leucine aminopeptidase (258.6 $\pm$ 9.6) activities. Elastase-like and chymotrypsin activities were inhibited by SBTI, POT-1 and POT-2, but not BPTI. Trypsin activity was reduced by each inhibitor. Leucine aminopeptidase activity was unaffected.

bumblebee / protease inhibitor / food consumption / small-cage bioassay / pest-resistant transgenic plant

Correspondence and reprints: Louise Anne Malone

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