Honeydew is a common sugar-rich excretion of aphids and other phloem-feeding insects and represents the primary sugar in many agricultural systems. When honeydew-producing insects feed on genetically modified plants, the honeydew can contain amounts of the transgene product. Here we address whether this route of exposure poses a risk for non-target insects. Three species of parasitic wasps were selected: i.e. Aphidius colemani, Trichogramma brassicae and Cotesia glomerata, all of which are known to use honeydew as a carbohydrate source in the field. Wasps were fed sucrose solutions with varying concentrations of snowdrop lectin (Galanthus nivalis agglutinin, GNA), a protein that has been engineered into crops to confer resistance against homopteran pests and that has been detected in honeydew. Parameters evaluated included gustatory response, longevity, fecundity, progeny emergence and sex ratio. While A. colemani and T. brassicae, but not C. glomerata, were able to detect GNA, this gustatory recognition had no effect on the acceptance of a GNA-sucrose solution. In all three species, GNA ingestion reduced parasitoid survival significantly. However, in respect to fecundity, negative effects were observed for T. brassicae but not for A. colemani. The results suggest that the effect of GNA consumption may depend on the specifics of a parasitoid's biology, especially its longevity and its mode of egg maturation. [KEYWORDS: GNA - Honeydew - Parasitoids - Risk-assessment - Transgenic plants]
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2003

ID: 208546