Spiders from multiple functional guilds are exposed to Bt-endotoxins in transgenic corn fields via prey and pollen consumption

Julie A. Peterson, John J. Obrycki, James D. Harwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A comprehensive assessment of risk to natural enemies from Bt-endotoxins from bioengineered crops must evaluate potential harm, as well as exposure pathways in non-target arthropod food webs. Despite being abundant generalist predators in agricultural fields, spiders (Araneae) have often been overlooked in the context of Bt crop risk assessment. Spiders and their prey were collected from transgenic corn fields expressing lepidopteran-specific Cry1Ab, coleopteran-specific Cry3Bb1, both proteins, and a non-transgenic near isoline. Spiders and prey were screened for Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 using qualitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Spiders from the three most common functional guilds, wandering sheet-tangle weavers, orb-weavers, and ground runners, tested positive for Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 proteins, with the highest per cent positive (8.0% and 8.3%) during and after anthesis. Laboratory feeding trials revealed that Bt-endotoxins were detectable in the Pardosa sp. (Lycosidae)-immature cricket-Bt corn pathway, but not in the Tennesseellum formica (Linyphiidae)-Collembola-Bt corn pathway. Additionally, direct consumption of transgenic corn pollen by Pardosa sp., T. formica, and Cyclosa turbinata (Araneidae) resulted in transfer of both Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 endotoxins. This study demonstrates that Bt-endotoxins are taken up by diverse members of a spider community via pollen and prey consumption and should be factored into future risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1230-1248
Number of pages19
JournalBiocontrol Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Araneidae
  • Linyphiidae
  • Lycosidae
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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