Endogenous genes of plants expressing insect enzyme inhibitors have been introduced into plants for pest control. Protease inhibitors are present in plant tissues, mainly in seeds, and act in response to predators and pathogens. The Bowman-Birk type and Kunitz type of serine protease inhibitors (PI) from soybean seeds are been used to increase resistance of sugarcane to Diatraea saccharalis, the most important pest of this crop. The sustainability and environmental safety of PI crops is still unknown. For these reasons is necessary to understand the stability and the non-target effects of this new trait. The objective of this study is to evaluate the indirect effects of soybean PI on the following natural enemies: the larval parasitoid, Cotesia flavipes (Hymenoptera: Braconidae); the predator, Doru luteips (Dermaptera: Forficulidae) and the pathogen, Metarhizium anisopliae (Deuteromycotina: Hyphomycetes); and the direct effects on the pollinator Apis mellifera (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and the decompositor, Scheloribates praeincisus (Acari: Oribatida: Scheloribatidae); associated to sugarcane. Toxicity tests will be conducted in laboratory using purified extract of PI and subsequently using transgenic plants. Natural enemies will be fed on D. saccharalis reared on artificial diet with and without PI. The developmental stages, parasitism, and predation of the natural enemies will be quantified. Direct effects of PI on the survival and longevity of A. mellifera adults and immature stages of S. praeincisus will be measured in laboratory. A. mellifera will be fed on transgenic and non-transgenic sugarcane, sugary solution with and without PI. S. praeincisus will be fed on dry macerated leaves of transgenic and non-transgenic sugarcanes. The proposed studies intend to characterize the specificity of PI and the results will be applicable to the on-going genetic breeding program aiming to increase sugarcane resistance to insect pests.
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