[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The possible transfer of genes from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Btk) to indigenous Bacillus spp. was investigated in soil samples from stands of cork oak in Orotelli (Sardinia, Italy) collected 5 years after spraying of the stands with a commercial insecticidal preparation (FORAY 48B) of Btk. Two colonies with a morphology different from that of Btk were isolated and identified as Bacillus mycoides by morphological and physiological characteristics and by 16S rDNA analysis. Amplification by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the DNA of the two isolated B. mycoides colonies with primers used for the identification of the Btk cry genes showed the presence of a fragment of 238 bp of the cry1Ab9 gene that had a similarity of 100% with the sequence of the cry1Ab9 gene present in GenBank, indicating that the isolates of B. mycoides acquired part of the sequence of this gene from Btk. No cells of Btk or B. mycoides carrying the 238-bp fragment of the cry1Ab9 gene were isolated from samples of unsprayed control soil. However, the isolates of B. mycoides were not able to express the partial Cry1Ab protein. Hybridization with probes for IS231 and the cry1Ab9 gene suggested that the inverted repeated sequence, IS231, was probably involved in the transfer of the 238-bp fragment from Btk to B. mycoides. These results indicate that transfer of genes between introduced Btk and indigenous Bacillus spp. can occur in soil under field conditions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Earthworms, which play a key role in biogeochemical processes in soil ecosystems, could be negatively affected by the cultivation of transgenic Bt crops. Studies to date have found few effects of Bt maize on earthworm species. If adverse effects occur, they are likely to be chronic or sub-lethal and expressed over large spatial and temporal scales. Our objective in the present study was to investigate potential effects on earthworm populations in soil cultivated with Bt maize in a large multiple-year field study. We surveyed the earthworm populations in 0.16-ha experimental field plots of two varieties of Cry1Ab Bt maize, one variety of Cry3Bb1 Bt maize, and three non-transgenic control varieties cultivated for four years. Four earthworm species were found in our sample: Aporrectodea caliginosa, Aporrectodea trapezoides, Aporrectodea tuberculata (collectively, the A. caliginosa species complex), and Lumbricus terrestris. We found no significant differences in the biomass of juveniles and adults for all four species between Bt and non-Bt maize varieties. From this and previous studies, we conclude that the effects of Cry1Ab and Cry3Bb1 Bt maize on the A. caliginosa species complex and L. terrestris are small. Nonetheless, general conclusions about the effects of Bt maize on earthworm populations are not warranted due to the small number of species tested. In future laboratory studies, earthworm species should be selected according to their association with a Bt crop and the impact of that species to valued soil ecosystem processes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The uptake of the insecticidal Cry1Ab protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) by various crops from soils on which Bt corn had previously grown was determined. In 2005, the Cry1Ab protein was detected by Western blot in tissues (leaves plus stems) of basil, carrot, kale, lettuce, okra, parsnip, radish, snap bean, and soybean but not in tissues of beet and spinach and was estimated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to be 0.05 +/- 0.003 ng g(-1) of fresh plant tissue in basil, 0.02 +/- 0.014 ng g(-1) in okra, and 0.34 +/- 0.176 ng g(-1) in snap bean. However, the protein was not detected by ELISA in carrot, kale, lettuce, parsnip, radish, and soybean or in the soils by Western blot. In 2006, the Cry1Ab protein was detected by Western blot in tissues of basil, carrot, kale, radish, snap bean, and soybean from soils on which Bt corn had been grown the previous year and was estimated by ELISA to be 0.02 +/- 0.014 ng g(-1) of fresh plant tissue in basil, 0.19 +/- 0.060 ng g(-1) in carrot, 0.05 +/- 0.018 ng g(-1) in kale, 0.04 +/- 0.022 ng g(-1) in radish, 0.53 +/- 0.170 ng g(-1) in snap bean, and 0.15 +/- 0.071 ng g(-1) in soybean. The Cry1Ab protein was also detected by Western blot in tissues of basil, carrot, kale, radish, and snap bean but not of soybean grown in soil on which Bt corn had not been grown since 2002; the concentration was estimated by ELISA to be 0.03 +/- 0.021 ng g(-1) in basil, 0.02 +/- 0.008 ng g(-1) in carrot, 0.04 +/- 0.017 ng g(-1) in kale, 0.02 +/- 0.012 ng g(-1) in radish, 0.05 +/- 0.004 ng g(-1) in snap bean, and 0.09 +/- 0.015 ng g(-1) in soybean. The protein was detected by Western blot in 2006 in most soils on which Bt corn had or had not been grown since 2002. The Cry1Ab protein was detected by Western blot in leaves plus stems and in roots of carrot after 56 days of growth in sterile hydroponic culture to which purified Cry1Ab protein had been added and was estimated by ELISA to be 0.08 +/- 0.021 and 0.60 +/- 0.148 ng g(-1) of fresh leaves plus stems and roots, respectively. No Cry1Ab protein was detected in the tissues of carrot grown in hydroponic culture to which no Cry1Ab protein had been added. Because of the different results obtained with different commercial Western blot (i.e., from Envirologix and Agdia) and ELISA kits (i.e., from Envirologix, Agdia, and Abraxis), it is not clear whether the presence of the Cry1Ab protein in the tissues of some plants under field condition and in carrot in sterile hydroponic culture was the result of the uptake of the protein by the plants or of the accuracy and sensitivity of the different commercial kits used. More detailed studies with additional techniques are obviously needed to confirm the uptake of Cry proteins from soil by plants subsequently planted after a Bt crop.
Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 06/2009; 83(1):48-58. · 1.11 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Cry3Bb1 protein, insecticidal to the corn rootworm complex (Diabrotica spp.), of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) subsp. kumamotoensis was released in root exudates of transgenic Bt corn (event MON863) in sterile hydroponic culture (7.5 +/- 1.12 ng/ml after 28 days of growth) and in nonsterile soil throughout growth of the plants (2.2 +/- 0.62 ng/g after 63 days of growth). Kitchawan soil, which contains predominantly kaolinite (K) but not montmorillonite (M), was amended to 3 or 6% (vol./vol.) with K (3K and 6K soils) or M (3M and 6M soils) and with 1, 3, 5, or 10% (wt./wt.) of ground biomass of Bt corn expressing the Cry3Bb1 protein and incubated at 25 +/- 2 degrees C at the -33-kPa water tension for 60 days. Soils were analyzed for the presence of the protein every 7 to 10 days with a western blot assay (ImmunoStrip) and verified by ELISA. Persistence of the protein varied with the type and amount of clay mineral and the pH of the soils and increased as the concentration of K was increased but decreased as the concentration of M was increased. Persistence decreased when the pH of the K-amended soils was increased from ca. 5 to ca. 7 with CaCO(3): the protein was not detected after 14 and 21 days in the pH-adjusted 3K and 6K soils, respectively, whereas it was detected after 40 days in the 3K and 6K soils not adjusted to pH 7. The protein was detected for only 21 days in the 3M soil and for 14 days in the 6M soil, which were not adjusted in pH. These results indicate that the Cry3Bb1 protein does not persist or accumulate in soil and is degraded rapidly.
Transgenic Research 09/2008; 17(4):609-20. · 2.61 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Human serum albumin (HSA), β-glucuronidase (GUS), and the Cry3Bb1 protein from Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kumamotoensis are expressed by genetically-modified plants. Commercial samples of these proteins adsorbed and bound rapidly on the clay minerals, kaolinite (K) and montmorillonite (M). Adsorption increased as the concentration of protein increased and then reached a plateau. The greatest amount of adsorption and binding occurred with the Cry3Bb1 protein, of which there was no desorption: 6.7 ±0.21 μg adsorbed and bound μg− 1 of M; 2.1 ± 0.39 μg adsorbed and bound μg− 1 of K. With GUS, 2.2 ± 0.29 μg adsorbed and 1.7 ±0.21 μg bound μg− 1 of M; 1.5 ± 0.28 μg adsorbed and 1.0 ± 0.03 μg bound μg− 1 of K. HSA was adsorbed and bound the least: 1.2 ±0.04 μg adsorbed and 0.8 ± 0.05 μg bound μg− 1 of M; 0.4 ± 0.05 μg adsorbed and 0.4 ± 0.03 μg bound μg− 1 of K. However, X-ray diffraction analyses indicated that only HSA intercalated M, and none of the proteins intercalated K, a nonswelling clay. When bound, the proteins were not utilized for growth by mixed cultures of soil microorganisms, whereas the cultures readily utilized the free (i.e., not adsorbed or bound) proteins as sources of carbon and energy. The enzymatic activity of GUS was significantly enhanced when bound on the clay minerals. These results indicated that recombinant proteins expressed by transgenic plants could persist and function in soil after release in root exudates and from decaying plant residues as the result of the protection provided against biodegradation by binding on clay minerals.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent applications of biotechnology, especially genetic engineering, have revolutionized crop improvement and increased the availability of valuable new traits. A current example is the use of the insecticidal Cry proteins from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), to improve crops, known as Bt crops, by reducing injury from various crop pests. The adoption of genetically modified (GM) crops has increased dramatically in the last 11 years. However, the introduction of GM plants into agricultural ecosystems has raised a number of questions, including the ecological impact of these plants on soil ecosystems. Crop residues are the primary source of carbon in soil, and root exudates govern which organisms reside in the rhizosphere. Therefore, any change to the quality of crop residues and rhizosphere inputs could modify the dynamics of the composition and activity of organisms in soil. Insect-resistant Bt crops have the potential to change the microbial dynamics, biodiversity, and essential ecosystem functions in soil, because they usually produce insecticidal Cry proteins through all parts of the plant. It is crucial that risk assessment studies on the commercial use of Bt crops consider the impacts on organisms in soil. In general, few or no toxic effects of Cry proteins on woodlice, collembolans, mites, earthworms, nematodes, protozoa, and the activity of various enzymes in soil have been reported. Although some effects, ranging from no effect to minor and significant effects, of Bt plants on microbial communities in soil have been reported, using both culturing and molecular techniques, they were mostly the result of differences in geography, temperature, plant variety, and soil type and, in general, were transient and not related to the presence of the Cry proteins. The respiration (i.e., CO2 evolution) of soils cultivated with Bt maize or amended with biomass of Bt maize and other Bt crops was generally lower than from soils cultivated with or amended with biomass of the respective non-Bt isolines, which may have been a result of differences in chemical composition (e.g., the content of starch, soluble N, proteins, carbohydrates, lignin) between Bt plants and their near-isogenic counterparts. Laboratory and field studies have shown differences in the persistence of the Cry proteins in soil, which appear to be the result primarily of differences in microbial activity, which, in turn, is dependent on soil type (e.g., pH, clay mineral composition, other physicochemical characteristics), season (e.g., temperature, water tension), crop species (e.g., chemical composition, C:N ratio, plant part), crop management practices (e.g., till vs. no-till), and other environmental factors that vary with location and climate zones. This review discusses the available data on the effects of Cry proteins on below-ground organisms, the fate of these proteins in soil, the techniques and indicators that are available to study these aspects, and future directions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We determined the release in root exudates of human serum albumin (HSA), beta-glucuronidase (GUS), glycoprotein B (gB) from human cytomegalovirus, and green fluorescent protein (GFP) from genetically modified transgenic tobacco expressing the genes for these proteins in hydroponic culture and non-sterile soil. GUS, gB, and GFP were expressed in the plant but were not released in root exudates, whereas HSA was both expressed in the plant and released in root exudates, as shown by a 66.5-kDa band on SDS-PAGE and Western blot and confirmed by ELISA. Root exudates from GUS and gB plants showed no bands that could be attributed to these proteins on SDS-PAGE, and root exudates from GFP plants showed no fluorescence. The concentration of HSA in root exudates was estimated to be 0.021 ng ml(-1), whereas that in the plant biomass was estimated to be 0.087 ng ml(-1). The concentration of HSA in soil was estimated to be 0.049 ng g(-1). No significant differences in the number of microorganisms and the activity of selected enzymes were observed between rhizosphere soil of non-modified and HSA tobacco.
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 01/2007; 45(6-7):464-9. · 2.78 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bt plants are plants that have been genetically modified to express the insecticidal proteins (e.g. Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, Cry3A) from subspecies of the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), to kill lepidopteran pests that feed on corn, rice, tobacco, canola, and cotton and coleopteran pests that feed on potato. The biomass of these transgenic Bt plants (Bt+) was decomposed less in soil than the biomass of their near-isogenic non-Bt plant counterparts (Bt−). Soil was amended with 0.5, 1, or 2% (wt wt−1) ground, dried (50 °C) leaves or stems of Bt corn plants; with 0.5% (wt wt−1) ground, dried biomass of Bt rice, tobacco, canola, cotton, and potato plants; with biomass of the near-isogenic plants without the respective cry genes; or not amended. The gross metabolic activity of the soil was determined by CO2 evolution. The amounts of C evolved as CO2 were significantly lower from soil microcosms amended with biomass of Bt plants than of non-Bt plants. This difference occurred with stems and leaves from two hybrids of Bt corn, one of which had a higher C:N ratio than its near-isogenic non-Bt counterpart and the other which had essentially the same C:N ratio, even when glucose, nitrogen (NH4NO3), or glucose plus nitrogen were added with the biomass. The C:N ratios of the other Bt plants (including two other hybrids of Bt corn) and their near-isogenic non-Bt counterparts were also not related to their relative biodegradation. Bt corn had a significantly higher lignin content than near-isogenic non-Bt corn. However, the lignin content of the other Bt plants, which was significantly lower than that of both Bt and non-Bt corn, was generally not statistically significantly different, although 10–66% higher, from that of their respective non-Bt near-isolines. The numbers of culturable bacteria and fungi and the activity of representative enzymes involved in the degradation of plant biomass were not significantly different between soil amended with biomass of Bt or non-Bt corn. The degradation of the biomass of all Bt plants in the absence of soil but inoculated with a microbial suspension from the same soil was also significantly less than that of their respective inoculated non-Bt plants. The addition of streptomycin, cycloheximide, or both to the soil suspension did not alter the relative degradation of Bt+ and Bt− biomass, suggesting that differences in the soil microbiota were not responsible for the differential decomposition of Bt+ and Bt− biomass. All samples of soil amended with biomass of Bt plants were immunologically positive for the respective Cry proteins and toxic to the larvae of the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta), which was used as a representative lepidopteran in insect bioassays (no insecticidal assay was done for the Cry3A protein from potato). The ecological and environmental relevance of these findings is not clear.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Insecticidal proteins produced by various subspecies (kurstaki, tenebrionis, and israelensis) of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bound rapidly and tightly on clays, both pure mined clay minerals and soil clays, on humic acids extracted from soil, and
on complexes of clay and humic acids. Binding reduced susceptibility of the proteins to microbial degradation. However, bound
proteins retained biological activity. Purified Cry1Ab protein and protein released from biomass of transgenic Bt corn and in root exudates of growing Bt corn (13 hybrids representing three transformation events) exhibited binding and persistence in soil. Insecticidal protein
was also released in root exudates of Bt potato (Cry3A protein) and rice (Cry1Ab protein) but not in root exudates of Bt canola, cotton, and tobacco (Cry1Ac protein). Vertical movement of Cry1Ab protein, either purified or in root exudates or
biomass of Bt corn, decreased as the concentration of the clay minerals, kaolinite or montmorillonite, in soil increased. Biomass of transgenic
Bt corn decomposed less in soil than biomass of near-isogenic non-Bt corn, possibly because biomass of Bt corn had a significantly higher content of lignin than biomass of non-Bt corn. Biomass of Bt canola, cotton, potato, rice, and tobacco also decomposed less than biomass of the respective near-isogenic non-Bt plants. However, the lignin content of these Bt plants, which was significantly less than that of Bt corn, was not significantly different from that of their near-isogenic non-Bt counterparts, although it was consistently higher. The Cry1Ab protein had no consistent effects on organisms (earthworms,
nematodes, protozoa, bacteria, fungi) in soil or in vitro. The Cry1Ab protein was not taken up from soil by non-Bt corn, carrot, radish, or turnip grown in soil in which Bt corn had been grown or into which biomass of Bt corn had been incorporated.
Plant and Soil 12/2004; 266(1):77-89. · 2.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Larvicidal proteins encoded by cry genes from Bacillus thuringiensis were released in root exudates from transgenic B. thuringiensis corn, rice, and potato but not from B. thuringiensis canola, cotton, and tobacco. Nonsterile soil and sterile hydroponic solution in which B. thuringiensis corn, rice, or potato had been grown were immunologically positive for the presence of the Cry proteins; from B. thuringiensis corn and rice, the soil and solution were toxic to the larva of the tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta), and from potato, to the larva of the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), representative lepidoptera and coleoptera, respectively. No toxin was detected immunologically or by larvicidal assay in soil or hydroponic solution in which B. thuringiensis canola, cotton, or tobacco, as well as all near-isogenic non-B. thuringiensis plant counterparts or no plants, had been grown. All plant species had the cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) 35S promoter, except rice, which had the ubiquitin promoter from maize. The reasons for the differences between species in the exudation from roots of the toxins are not known. The released toxins persisted in soil as the result of their binding on surface-active particles (e.g. clay minerals, humic substances), which reduced their biodegradation. The release of the toxins in root exudates could enhance the control of target insect pests, constitute a hazard to nontarget organisms, and/or increase the selection of toxin-resistant target insects.
Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 06/2004; 42(5):383-7. · 2.78 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. israelensis produces parasporal insecticidal crystal proteins (ICPs) that have larvicidal activity against some members of the order Diptera, such as blackflies and mosquitoes. Hydrolysis of the ICPs in the larval gut results in four major proteins with a molecular mass of 27, 65, 128, and 135 kDa. Toxicity is caused by synergistic interaction between the 25-kDa protein (proteolytic product of the 27-kDa protein) and one or more of the higher-molecular-mass proteins. Equilibrium adsorption of the proteins on the clay minerals montmorillonite and kaolinite, which are homoionic to various cations, was rapid (<30 min for maximal adsorption), increased with protein concentration and then reached a plateau (68 to 96% of the proteins was adsorbed), was significantly lower on kaolinite than on montmorillonite, and was not significantly affected by the valence of the cation to which the clays were homoionic. Binding of the toxins decreased as the pH was increased from 6 to 11, and there was 35 to 66% more binding in phosphate buffer at pH 6 than in distilled water at pH 6 or 7.2. Only 2 to 12% of the adsorbed proteins was desorbed by two washes with water; additional washings desorbed no more toxins, indicating that they were tightly bound. Formation of clay-toxin complexes did not alter the structure of the proteins, as indicated by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of the equilibrium supernatants and desorption washes and by dot blot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of the complexes, which was confirmed by enhanced chemiluminescence Western blot analysis. Free and clay-bound toxins resulted in 85 to 100% mortality of the mosquito Culex pipiens. Persistence of the bound toxins in nonsterile water after 45 days was significantly greater (mortality of 63% +/- 12.7%) than that of the free toxins (mortality of 25% +/- 12.5%).
Applied and Environmental Microbiology 07/2003; 69(7):4111-5. · 3.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sprays of commercial insecticidal preparations of the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Btk), usually a mixture of cells, spores and parasporal crystals, have been used for the last 10 yr in Sardinia (Italy) to protect cork oak forests against the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar L.). Until now, the protective antilepidopteran efficacies of each of the various spray treatments rather than their effects on the environment have been evaluated. Consequently, the persistence of Btk and its toxin, released in sprays (FORAY 48B®), in soils of cork oak stands, located in Orotelli, Tempio Pausania and Calangianus (Sardinia), were investigated. In the Calangianus soil, the numbers of Btk remained essentially constant for 28 months (the longest time studied) after spraying, indicating that Btk was able to compete with the indigenous microbial community; the toxin was detected 28 months after spraying by immunological assay, but at a reduced concentration; and the larvicidal activity decreased essentially linearly to 14 months and then decreased markedly between 14 and 28 months. In the Tempio Pausania and Orotelli soils, cells of Btk were detected, whereas the toxin was not detected by immunological and larvicidal assays, 52 and 88 months (the longest times studied) after spraying, respectively. The numbers of Btk cells detected were probably too low to account for the presence of the toxin in all of the soils studied, as there was no correlation between numbers of Btk and toxin detected by immunological assays (correlation coefficient of −0.66) in the Calangianus soil. Our results indicated that Btk and its toxin introduced into soils in sprays can persist for long periods (at least 88 months for Btk and at least 28 months for its toxin).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The insecticidal toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis subspp. kurstaki (antilepidopteran), morrisoni strain tenebrionis (anticoleopteran), and israelensis (antidipteran) did not affect the growth of a variety of bacteria (8 gram-negative, 5 gram-positive, and a cyanobacterium), fungi (2 Zygomycetes, 1 Ascomycete, 2 Deuteromycetes, and 2 yeasts), and algae (primarily green and diatoms) in pure and mixed culture, as determined by dilution, disk-diffusion, and sporulation assays with purified free and clay-bound toxins. The insecticidal crystal proteins from B. thuringiensis subspp. kurstaki and israelensis had no antibiotic effect on various gram-positive bacteria.
Canadian Journal of Microbiology 04/2002; 48(3):262-7. · 1.20 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: DNA adsorbs and binds on clay minerals, which provides protection to the DNA against degradation by nucleases but does not eliminate the ability of bound DNA to transform cells. These observations support the concept that ‘cryptic genes’ can persist in the environment when bound on particles and that the genes could subsequently be expressed if an appropriate host was transformed. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to amplify free and bound DNA from Bacillus subtilis and calf thymus. DNA bound on montmorillonite, but not on kaolinite, was amplified. However, amplification occurred when kaolinite was pretreated with sodium metaphosphate. DNA was not released from the clays during the amplification procedure. The type of clay (e.g. its structure and charges) affected amplification. Because DNA bound on clay is protected against biodegradation, the ability to amplify DNA bound on clay by the PCR has palaeontological, archaeological, and anthropological implications for the detection of ‘ancient’ DNA, as well as for monitoring the persistence of recombinant DNA introduced to the environment in genetically modified organisms.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The culture of transgenic Bt corn (Zea mays L.) has resulted in concern about the uptake of the Cry1Ab protein toxin by crops subsequently grown in soils in which Bt corn has been grown. The toxin released to soil in root exudates of Bt corn, from the degradation of the biomass of Bt corn, or as purified toxin, was not taken up from soil, where the toxin is bound on surface-active particles (e.g. clays and humic substances), or from hydroponic culture, where the toxin is not bound on particles, by non-Bt corn, carrot (Daucus carota L.), radish (Raphanus sativus L.), and turnip (Brassica rapa L.). The persistence of the toxin in soil for 90 days after its addition in purified form or for 120–180 days after its release in exudates or from biomass, the longest times evaluated, confirmed that the toxin was bound on surface-active particles in soil, which protected the toxin from biodegradation. The greater toxicity of the toxin in soil amended with 9% montmorillonite or kaolinite than in soil amended with 3% of these clay minerals indicated that the binding and persistence of the toxin increased as the clay concentration was increased.
Plant and Soil 01/2002; 239(2):165-172. · 2.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The effects of montmorillonite (M) or kaolinite (K) on the vertical movement of the insecticidal Cry1Ab protein of Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Bt) were studied in repacked soil columns. The protein was added to the columns either in a purified form, as root exudates from growing plants of Bt corn, or within the biomass of residues of Bt corn. The soil was amended to 0, 3, 6, 9, or 12% (vol vol−1) with the clays. Vertical movement of the protein generally decreased as the content of either clay was increased, and the amount of protein recovered in leachates increased as the concentration of purified protein added was increased. The largest amount of purified protein (ca. 75%) was leached from soil not amended with clay, whereas the lowest amount (ca. 16%) was recovered from columns containing soil amended to 12% with M or K. The Cry1Ab protein was also present in leachates from soil columns in which various hybrids of Bt corn were grown or to which biomass of Bt corn had been added, whereas it was absent in leachates from columns in which the respective isolines of non-Bt corn were grown or to which biomass of non-Bt corn had been added. The Cry1Ab protein exhibited stronger binding and higher persistence, as well as remaining nearer the soil surface, in soil that contained the higher clay concentrations (i.e. had a higher cation-exchange capacity and specific surface area), indicating that it could be transported to surface waters via runoff and erosion. In contrast, the protein was more readily leached through soil with lower clay concentrations, indicating that it could contaminate groundwater.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The anti-lepidopteran toxin (Cry1Ab protein) encoded by truncated genes from Bacillus thuringiensis was released in the root exudates from all hybrids of Bt corn studied and which represented three transformation events (Bt11, MON810, and 176). In vitro and in situ studies indicated that the toxin released in root exudates accumulates in soil, as it adsorbs and binds rapidly on surface-active particles (e.g. clays and humic substances), and retains insecticidal activity for at least 180 d, the longest time studied. The results indicated that the release of the Cry1Ab protein by roots is a common phenomenon with transgenic Bt corn and is not restricted to only the one Bt corn hybrid (NK4640Bt) and tranformation event (Bt11) studied initially.