Foraging activity of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris L.) on Bt-expressing eggplants

Salvatore Arpaia, Antonio de Cristofaro, Emilio Guerrieri, Simone Bossi, Francesco Cellini, Grazia M. Di Leo, Giacinto S. Germinara, Luigi Iodice, Massimo E. Maffei, Angelo Petrozza, Raffaele Sasso, Silvia Vitagliano

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A greenhouse experiment was setup to study foraging behavior of the bumblebee Bombus terrestris L. on Cry3Bb-expressing genetically modified (GM) eggplants and their near-isogenic control. Commonly, more bumblebees visited GM eggplants compared to near-isogenic control, but this difference was only marginally significant. The mean length of feeding bouts was similar on the two treatments. Neither the number of flowers produced nor their size could explain bumblebees' tendency to prefer GM eggplants. Volatile compounds were extracted from five plants per genotype and separated using gas chromatography. Thirteen compounds were identified and five of them appeared significantly more abundant in GM eggplants. Six of the identified compounds [(+)-limonene, Z-jasmone, p-cymene, α-pinene, methyl-salicilate, and (-)-limonene] were tested in electrophysiological bioassays with antennas detached from young bumblebees, and a response was recorded in all six cases. Experimental results indicate that pollination activity of bumblebees is compatible with this GM eggplant event as a food source and that chemical cues may have an important role in plant identification. The implications for environmental risk assessment of GM plants are discussed. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255 - 261
Number of pages7
JournalArthropod-Plant Interactions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science

Cite this

Arpaia, S., de Cristofaro, A., Guerrieri, E., Bossi, S., Cellini, F., Leo, G. M. D., ... Vitagliano, S. (2011). Foraging activity of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris L.) on Bt-expressing eggplants. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 5(3), 255 - 261.