Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Indirect side-effects of the cultivation of genetically modified plants

Date:
March 13, 2013
Source:
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Summary:
Genetically modified Bt cotton plants contain a poison that protects them from their most significant enemies. As a result, these plants rely less on their own defence system. This benefits other pests, such as aphids.

Let's eat: a caterpillar of the species Heliothis virescens on a cotton leaf.
Credit: © Lawo Nora, Agroscope ART

Genetically modified Bt cotton plants contain a poison that protects them from their most significant enemies. As a result, these plants rely less on their own defence system. This benefits other pests, such as aphids. These insights stem from a study supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Just ten years ago, genetically modified cotton grew on 12% of all fields -- today it is cultivated on over 80% of all cotton fields around the world. Bt cotton contains a gene of Bacillus thuringiensis, a species of soil bacteria. The plant uses it to produce a poison whose effects are fatal to the principal cotton pests -- voracious caterpillars. However, certain types of bugs and other pests begin to spread across cotton fields instead, as is the case in China. The decline in the use of chemical pesticides may be partly responsible for this development, but it is probably not the only factor.

Spoiling their appetites

A team of researchers led by Jφrg Romeis from the Agroscope Reckenholz-Tδnikon Research Station has now identified a biological mechanism that offers an additional explanation for the increase in new pests in Bt cotton fields. Cotton plants have a sophisticated defence system. When caterpillars begin to nibble on them, they form defensive substances, so-called terpenoids. This spoils the appetite of not only the caterpillars, but of many other nibblers as well.

Also helpful against bugs?

Cotton aphids generally do not cause severe agricultural damage because they succumb to their natural enemies out in the open. His results are therefore not relevant to farming, says Romeis. However, he has for the first time revealed an indirect effect of Bt cotton: the killing of the caterpillars also affects other plant-eating insects because the plants' defence system remains inactive. Romeis now wants to investigate whether this effect is relevant to aphids only or also to the bugs that are creating problems for cotton farmers in China and in other cotton-growing regions of the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Hagenbucher, F. L. Wackers, F. E. Wettstein, D. M. Olson, J. R. Ruberson, J. Romeis. Pest trade-offs in technology: reduced damage by caterpillars in Bt cotton benefits aphids. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1758): 20130042 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0042

Cite This Page:

Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. "Indirect side-effects of the cultivation of genetically modified plants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313095427.htm>.
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. (2013, March 13). Indirect side-effects of the cultivation of genetically modified plants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313095427.htm
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Foerderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung. "Indirect side-effects of the cultivation of genetically modified plants." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130313095427.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) — A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins