Non-target organisms associated with the soil might be adversely affected by exposure to the CrylAb protein from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in transgenic corn (Zea mays L.). To check for such exposure, we used ELISA to test for Cry1Ab in ground beetles collected live from fields with Bt corn residues and Bt corn (Bt/Bt), Bt corn residues and non-Bt crops (Bt/non-Bt), or non-Bt corn residues and non-Bt crops (non-Bt/non-Bt). In fields with Bt corn residues (Bt/Bt and Bt/non-Bt), Cry1Ab was present in all seven species of ground beetles examined (Agonum placidum, Bembidion rupicola, Clivina impressefrons, Cyclotrachelus iowensis, Harpalus pensylvanicus, Poecilus chalcites, and Poecilus lucublandus). For the two most abundant species, P. chalcites and P. lucublandus, the proportion of beetles with Cry1Ab was significantly higher in Bt/Bt fields (0.50-1.0) and Bt/non-Bt fields (0.41-0.50) than in non-Bt/non-Bt fields (0.0). This is the first field evidence that some ground beetle species are exposed to Cry1Ab. The implications of exposure on the performance of these non-target organisms are unclear.
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