The development of transgenic maize plants expressing soybean proteinase inhibitors could reduce the economic damage of one of the major maize pests in Brazil, the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith, 1797). We examined the influence of soybean proteinase inhibitors on digestive enzyme properties and development of S. frugiperda larvae. The inhibition of trypsin and chymotrypsin activities in vitro by soybean proteinase inhibitors suggested that either Kunitz (SBTI) or Bowman-Birk (SBBI) would have a potential antimetabolic effect when ingested by insect larvae. However, chronic ingestion of semipurified soybean inhibitors did not result in a significant reduction of growth and development of fall armyworm. Therefore, digestive serine proteinase activities (trypsin and chymotrypsin) of fall armyworm larvae were characterized. The results suggest that S. frugiperda was able to physiologically adapt to dietary proteinase inhibitors by altering the complement of proteolytic enzymes in the insect midguts.
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Vol. 93 • No. 3