Potato tuberworm, Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller), is the most serious insect pest of potatoes worldwide. The introduction of the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin gene through genetic engineering offers host plant resistance for the management of potato tuberworm. We report on the field and storage studies to evaluate Bt-cry5 potato lines for resistance to potato tuberworm in Egypt under natural infestations and their agronomic performance in both Egypt and Michigan. From 1997 to 2001, field experiments were conducted at the International Potato Center (CIP) Research Station, Kafr El-Zyat, Egypt, and/or Agricultural Genetic Engineering Institute (AGERI), Giza, Egypt, to evaluate resistance to tuberworm. A total of 27 Bt-transgenic potato lines from six different Bt constructs were evaluated over a 5-yr period. After harvest and evaluation of the agronomic trials, storage evaluation of potato tuberworm damage was done at the CIP Research Station. The 1997 field trial was the first field test of genetically engineered crops in Egypt. Field tests to assess potato tuberworm resistance in Egypt were able to differentiate between the Bt-transgenic lines and the nontransgenic lines/cultivars in 1999, 2000, and 2001. The Bt-cry5-Spunta lines (Spunta-G2, Spunta-G3, and Spunta-6a3) were the most resistant lines in field with 99–100% of tubers free of damage. In the 2001 storage study, these lines were also over 90% free of tuberworm damage after 3 mo. NYL235–4.13, which combines glandular trichomes with the Bt-cry5/gus fusion construct, also had a high percentage of clean tubers in the field studies. In agronomic field trials in Michigan from 1997 to 2001, the Bt-transgenic lines in most instances performed similar to the nontransgenic line in the agronomic trials; however, in Egypt (1998–1999), the yields were less than one-half of those in Michigan. Expression of the Bt-cry5 gene in the potato tuber and foliage will provide the seed producer and grower a tool in which to reduce potato tuberworm damage to the tuber crop in the field and storage.
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Vol. 97 • No. 4