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Potential impact of genetically modified Lepidoptera-resistant Brassica napus in biodiversity hotspots: Sicily as a theoretical model

  • Autori: Manachini, Barbara*; Bazan, Giuseppe; Schicchi, Rosario
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2018
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • OA Link:


The general increase of the cultivation and trade of Bt transgenic plants resistant to Lepidoptera pests raises concerns regarding the conservation of animal and plant biodiversity. Demand for biofuels has increased the cultivation and importation of oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.), including transgenic lines. In environmental risk assessments (ERAs) for its potential future cultivation as well as for food and feed uses, the impact on wild Brassicaeae relatives and on non-target Lepidoptera should be assessed. Here we consider the potential exposure of butterflies as results of possible cultivation or naturalization of spilled seed in Sicily (Italy). Diurnal Lepidoptera, which are pollinators, can be exposed directly to the insecticidal proteins as larvae (mainly of Pieridae) through the host and through the pollen that can deposit on other host plants. Adults can be exposed via pollen and nectar. The flight periods of butterflies were recorded, and they were found to overlap for about 90% of the flowering period of B. napus for the majority of the species. In addition, B. napus has a high potential to hybridise with endemic taxa belonging to the B. oleracea group. This could lead to an exposure of non-target Lepidoptera if introgression of the Bt gene into a wild population happens. A rank of the risk for butterflies and wild relatives of oilseed rape is given. We conclude that, in environmental risk assessments, attention should be paid to plant-insect interaction especially in a biodiversity hotspot such as Sicily.