Genetically modified cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L., cultivars (‘Bollgard’) that produce crystalline proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Berliner) are valuable tools for managing lepidopteran insect pests in the United States. However, high numbers of bollworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), larvae have been observed feeding in white flowers of these cultivars. Fresh tissue bioassays were conducted to investigate bollworm survival on Bollgard and ‘Bollgard II’ cottons. Bollworm survival was higher on square and flower anthers than on other floral structures on ‘Deltapine 5415’ (conventional cotton) and ‘NuCOTN 33B’ (Bollgard). Bollworm survival at 72 h was higher on all floral structures from Deltapine 5415 than on corresponding structures from NuCOTN 33B. ELISA tests indicated that CryIA(c) expression varied among plant parts; however, bollworm survival did not correlate with protein expression levels. Trends in bollworm survival on Bollgard II were similar to those on Bollgard and conventional cotton; however, survival was lower on all structures of Bollgard II than on corresponding structures of Bollgard and conventional cotton. These data support field observations of bollworm injury to white flowers and small bolls and provide a better understanding of larval behavior on Bollgard cotton.
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Vol. 94 • No. 6