Free Access
Volume 36, Number 4, October-December 2005
Page(s) 585 - 594
Published online 19 October 2005
Apidologie 36 (2005) 585-594
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2005049

Influence of Bt-transgenic pollen, Bt-toxin and protease inhibitor (SBTI) ingestion on development of the hypopharyngeal glands in honeybees

Dirk Babendreiera, Nicole M. Kalberera, Jörg Romeisa, Peter Flurib, Evan Mulliganc and Franz Biglera

a  Agroscope FAL Reckenholz, Swiss Federal Research Station for Agroecology and Agriculture, Reckenholzstr. 191, 8046 Zürich, Switzerland
b  Agroscope ALP Liebefeld-Posieux, Swiss Federal Diary Research Station for Animal Production, Swiss Bee Research Centre, Schwarzenburgstr. 161, 3003 Bern, Switzerland
c  Institute for Research on Environment and Sustainability, University of Newcastle, UK

(Received 29 November 2004 - revised 6 April 2005 - accepted 21 April 2005; Published online: 19 October 2005)

Abstract - In order to assess the risks of transgenic crops for honey bee colonies, we studied the development of hypopharyngeal glands of adult workers. We introduced 50 newly emerged adult bees into small, queenright colonies of c. 250 bees. Bees were fed either Bt-transgenic maize pollen (MON 810) or a sugar solution containing either purified Bt-toxin (Cry1Ab, 0.0014% w/v) or Kunitz soybean trypsin inhibitor (SBTI) at two concentrations (0.1% and 1% w/v). Neither the Bt maize pollen nor the Bt toxin showed any effect on bee survival or on the development of hypopharyngeal glands after a period of 10 days' feeding. In contrast, treatment of newly emerged bees with SBTI (0.1 and 1%) for 10 days significantly reduced the mean weights of the hypopharyngeal glands and the mean diameter of the glands' acini. While small amounts of Bt toxin were detected by ELISA in the hypopharyngeal glands of bees fed the Bt-sugar solution, SBTI could not be detected in gland samples by Western blotting.

Key words: Apis mellifera / Cry1Ab / Kunitz soybean trypsin inhibitor / transgenic plants / risk assessment

Corresponding author: Dirk Babendreier

© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2005