Effects of Bt-maize material on the life cycle of the land snail Cantareus aspersus

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    Paulina Kramarz, Jagiellonian University, PolandAnnette de Vaufleury, INRA, FranceFrédéric Gimbert, INRA, FranceJerome Cortet, INRA, FranceElisabeth Tabone, INRA, France
  • Mathias Neumann Andersen
  • Paul Henning Krogh
  • Department of Agroecology and Environment
  • Climate and Bioenergy
  • Department of Terrestrial Ecology

Insect resistant Bt-maize (MON 810) expresses active Cry1Ab endotoxin derived from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Snails constitute non-target soil species potentially exposed to Bt-toxin through consumption of plant material and soil in fields where transgenic plants have been grown. We studied the effect of the Cry1Ab toxin on survival, growth and egg hatchability of the snail Cantareus aspersus. From the age of 4 to 88 weeks, snails were fed either powdered Bt-maize or non-Bt-maize and exposed to soil samples collected after harvesting either the Bt-maize or non-Bt-maize. We applied four treatments: non-Bt soil + non-Bt-maize (MM); Bt soil + Bt-maize (BB), non-Bt soil + Bt-maize (MB), Bt soil + non-Bt-maize (BM). Eggs laid by snails not exposed to Bt-toxin were also exposed to the two types of soils (Bt and non-Bt soil).

At the end of growth (47 weeks of exposure), snails exposed to Bt-toxin in food and soil (BB) had a growth coefficient (GC) 25% lower than unexposed snails (MM). After the first period of reproduction (68 weeks) a significant difference remained for body mass GC between the BB and MM treatments. Differences in body mass were not significant at the end of exposure (88 weeks). For snails not previously exposed to Bt material, hatchability of eggs was similar in the soils tested. The outcome of the experiments indicates that, in growing snails, long-term exposure is needed to reveal an effect of Bt-maize. The hazard analysis of Bt-maize which we performed, based on a worst-case scenario, i.e. snails having no food choice, should now be complemented by other simple measurements, e.g. food intake, to understand the underlying mechanisms involved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Soil Ecology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)236-242
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • Genetically modified crops, MON 810, Long-term experiment, Snail, Helix aspersa

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