Fitness Costs of Two Maize Lepidopteran Pests Fed on Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) Diets Enriched with Vitamins A and C
Girón-Calva, Patricia Sarai
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Serious malnutrition problems occur in developing countries where people's diets are mainly based on staple crops. To alleviate this, high-production crops are being developed that are better adapted to climate change, enriched in micronutrients and vitamins, or resistant to pests. In some cases, new varieties have been developed with several of the characteristics mentioned above, such as biofortified and pest-resistant crops. The development of biofortified Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) crops raises the question of whether vitamin enrichment of Bt crops can in any way favor those pests that are not very susceptible to the Bt toxin that feed on these crops, such as Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) or Mythimna unipuncta (Haworth) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). In this study, the response to a Bt diet enriched with vitamins A ( -carotene) and C (ascorbic acid) was somewhat different between the two species. M. unipuncta was less sensitive to the toxin than H. armigera, although the ingestion of the Bt diet resulted in oxidative stress (longer larval development and lower pupal weight) which was not mitigated by the vitamins. However, the two vitamins reduced the mortality of H. armigera larvae fed on a Bt-enriched diet; in addition, ß-carotene reduced the activity of the antioxidant glutathione S-transferase (GST) of both species, suggesting it has an antioxidant role. The results obtained here indicate that biofortified Bt crops will not favor the development of H. armigera very much and will not affect M. unipuncta's development at all, although the effect of the increase in vitamins may be very variable and should be studied for each specific phytophagous.