Tri-trophic impacts of transgenic Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) cotton GK12 and NuCOTN 99B were studied using a predator, the great lacewing Chrysopa pallens (Rambur), and its prey, the cotton aphid Aphis gossypii Glover, in laboratory feeding experiments. The parental nontransgenic cotton cultivar of GK12 was used as control. The predator was fed with uniform (aphids from a single cultivar) or mixed prey (aphids from the three cotton cultivars provided on alternate days). Mortality and development of the immature stages, pupal body mass, adult sex ratio, fecundity, and egg viability of C. pallens were measured. When fed GK12-originated aphid prey, pupal body mass of C. pallens was significantly higher than that of the control, more females emerged, and these females laid significantly more eggs. Other parameters were not impacted. Females emerging from larvae maintained on NuCOTN 99B-originated prey laid fewer eggs than those maintained on GK12. Other measurements did not differ significantly between the two Bt cotton cultivars. Compared with the control, mixed feeding significantly prolonged pupal development time and increased pupal body mass and percentage of females but did not affect other parameters. These results indicate that C. pallens is sensitive to aphid prey from different cotton cultivars. Transgenic Bt cotton GK12-originated aphid prey has no adverse impact on survival, development, and fecundity of C. pallens. Between the two Bt cotton cultivars, NuCOTN 99B-originated aphid prey provided to C. pallens in the larval stage may lower female fecundity. Mixed feeding of C. pallens with the two Bt cotton–originated prey and non-Bt prey may have some adverse impacts on pupal development.
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