Insect Science (2021) 28, 1159-1168

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Gábor L. Lövei, Andreas Lang, Marco Ferrante and Victor Bacle (2021)
Can the growing of transgenic maize threaten protected Lepidoptera in Europe?
Insect Science 28 (4), 1159-1168
Abstract: We evaluated whether protected European butterflies can potentially be at risk if transgenic maize is extensively grown in Central Europe. We explored potential consequences of both insect resistant (IR) and herbicide resistant (HR) transgenic maize. IR maize can produce pollen that is toxic to lepidopteran larvae, and this puts butterfly species at possible risk if the presence of young larvae coincides with maize flowering, during which large quantities of maize pollen can be deposited on vegetation. By considering the timing of maize flowering in Europe and the phenology of the protected Lepidoptera species, we found that 31 species had at least one generation where 50% of the larval stage overlapped with maize flowering, and 69 species for which first instar larvae were present during maize pollen shedding. HR maize allows high concentration herbicide treatments on fields without seasonal limitation, which can drastically reduce weed densities. In cases where such weed species are host plants for protected butterflies, reduced host plant/food availability can result, causing population decreases. By using published information, we first identified the important weed species in major maize-growing European countries. Subsequently, we checked whether the host plants of protected Lepidoptera included species that are common maize weeds. We identified 140 protected species having food plants that are common weeds in one or more of the major European maize-growing countries. If HR maize is grown in Europe, there is a potential hazard that their food plants will seriously decline, causing a subsequent decline of these protected species.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
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Database assignments for author(s): Gábor L. Lövei, Andreas Lang

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
biocontrol - natural enemies
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
non-target effects/fate in environm.

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Bacillus thuringiensis genes in crops (entomopathogen)