Free Access
Volume 32, Number 4, July-August 2001
Page(s) 287 - 304
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2001130

Apidologie 32 (2001) 287-304

Effects of transgene products on honey bees (Apis mellifera) and bumblebees (Bombus sp.)

Louise A. Malonea and Minh-Hà Pham-Delègueb

a  Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Ltd, Mt Albert Research Centre, Private Bag 92 169, Auckland, New Zealand
b  Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Comparée des Invertébrés, INRA, BP 23, 91440 Bures-sur-Yvette, France

(Received 17 July 2000; revised 23 November 2000; accepted 27 November 2000)

As more transgenic crop plants become commercialised, there is an increasing need for information on their impacts on honey bees and bumblebees. Direct effects on bees may arise upon ingestion of proteins encoded by transgenes, if they are expressed in pollen, nectar or resin. Indirect effects may occur if plant transformation inadvertently changes flower phenotype. This review summarises current findings on effects of purified transgene product ingestion on adult bee gut physiology, food consumption, olfactory learning behaviour and longevity. Bt, protease inhibitor, chitinase, glucanase and biotin-binding protein genes are discussed. Results from tests conducted in the laboratory with individual adult bees and with colonies in the field are presented. Observations of bee foraging on transgenic plants kept under containment are also summarised. Results so far suggest that transgenic plant impacts on pollinators will depend on a case-by-case analysis of the gene concerned and its expression in the parts of the plant ingested by bees.

Key words: Apis mellifera / Bombus terrestris / transgenic plants / Bacillus thuringiensis / protease inhibitor

Correspondence and reprints: Louise A. Malone

© INRA, EDP Sciences, DIB, AGIB 2001