The European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner), is one of the most important insect pests in corn, Zea mays L. Transgenic corn cultivars expressing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin provide a promising crop protection strategy against European corn borer; however, management is needed to avoid resistance development of the target pest species. The aim of this work was to establish the baseline susceptibility of different European corn borer populations in Germany to be able to forecast a possible development of resistance at an early stage. To standardize test procedures for future resistance management, the efficiency of Cry1Ab toxins from different suppliers and different production was assessed. Furthermore, two different test methods, surface treatment and the incorporation method, were compared with regard to their practicability and efficiency. Neither method provided significant differences in the baseline susceptibility of populations from different German regions. Overall, the data suggested little differentiation among German populations in terms of their susceptibility to Bt toxin and their genetic background. Future monitoring could therefore use a single European corn borer population as a representative for southwestern Germany. However, toxins from different suppliers and different production batches produced a vast range of LC50 values. Changes because of different toxin batches may be mistaken as a change in baseline susceptibility or even as the start of a resistance development. Thus, it is important throughout insect resistance management that the same toxin batches will be available for baseline susceptibility bioassays and for future tests.
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