We investigated the effects of Bacillus thuringiensis variety kurstaki × aizawai (Bt) on infestation levels of two lepidopteran insects as well as on seed quality in Norway spruce, Picea abies L. (Karst.) in central Sweden. Spruce flowers (female strobili) were sprayed with a 0.2% suspension (wt:wt) of the Bt preparation Turex 50 WP, 25,000 IU/mg in water. To expose even those lepidopteran larvae that feed exclusively embedded within the cone tissue, the Bt treatment was applied to open flowers, before they closed and developed into cones. The experimental design included three main factors: treatment (untreated control, water, or Bt), spruce genotype (three clones), and spraying time (spraying before, during, and after the phase of highest pollen receptivity). The Bt treatment reduced the proportion of cones infested by the cone worm Dioryctria abietella Den. et Schiff. (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) from ≈30 to 15%. There was no statistically significant treatment effect on the infestation rate of Cydia strobilella (L.) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). The Bt variety kurstaki × aizawai treatment caused no reduction in seed quality as measured by seed weight or percentage of nonfilled seeds. There was no difference in number of seeds per cone between the Bt-treated and untreated control cones. There was a significant effect of genotype on insect infestation rates, as well as on number of seeds per cone and seed weight. Neither level of insect damage nor any seed quality parameters were affected by time of application of the treatments.
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Vol. 97 • No. 6