The interactions among white spruce, Picea glauca (Moench) Voss, purified acetone tannin extracts (hydrolyzable and condensed tannin), Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki Cry1A(c) δ-endotoxin strain HD-73 (Btk), and spruce budworm, Choristoneura fumiferana (Clemens) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) on larval survival, growth, and development were investigated over the whole larval feeding period by using artificial diet supplemented with three concentrations of Btk toxins per milliliter of diet (0, 0.021, and 1.72 μg/ml) and three concentrations of foliar tannin extract (0, 8, and 15% dry mass basis). At high Btk concentration, tannin antagonized Btk potency against spruce budworm by lowering Btk-related larval mortality from 83 to 43%. At moderate Btk concentration tannin did not affect Btk potency. Host tree tannins antagonized not only the lethal effects of Btk toxin but also sublethal Btk-related impacts in terms of larval development, pupal weight, relative consumption rate, and growth rate. When alone in the diet, tannin negatively affected larval survival, growth, and development. Maximum potency of tannins against spruce budworm larvae (60% mortality) was reached at dietary concentrations corresponding to what is found in the plant (8% dry mass). The addition of Btk toxin in food containing tannin reduced percentage of larval mortality by one-third, indicating that Btk toxin can antagonize tannin potency against the insect. Development of Btk transgenic spruce trees should consider the antagonistic effect the toxin may have on the resistance conferred by tannins that have evolved naturally in spruce trees.
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Vol. 99 • No. 6