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Environmental Pollution
Vol. 178, No. xx, 2013; Pages: 147–151

Effects of insecticidal crystal proteins (Cry proteins) produced by genetically modified maize (Bt maize) on the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Sebastian Hössa, b, Ralph Menzelc, Frank Gesslerd, Hang T. Nguyene, Johannes A. Jehlee, 1, Walter Traunspurgerf

Ecossa, Giselastr. 6, 82319 Starnberg, Germany.


The genetically modified maize MON89034 × MON88017 expresses different crystal (Cry) proteins with pesticidal activity against the European corn borer (Cry1.105; Cry2Ab2) and the Western corn root worm (Cry3Bb1). Non-target organisms, such as soil nematodes, might be exposed to the Cry proteins that enter the soil in course of crop growing. Therefore, the risk of those proteins for nematodes was assessed by testing their toxic effects on Caenorhabditis elegans. All three insecticidal Cry proteins showed dose-dependent inhibitory effects on C. elegans reproduction (EC50: 0.12–0.38 μmol L−1), however, at concentrations that were far above the expected soil concentrations. Moreover, a reduced toxicity was observed when Cry proteins were added jointly. A C. elegans mutant strain deficient for receptors for the nematicidal Cry5B was also resistant against Cry1.105 and Cry2Ab2, suggesting that these Cry proteins bound to the same or similar receptors as nematicidal Cry proteins and thereby affect the reproduction ofC. elegans.

Keywords:Cry proteins; Bt maize; Nematodes; Caenorhabditis elegans; Reproduction; Risk assessment.

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