When the whole is not greater than the sum of the parts: A critical review of laboratory bioassay effects testing for insecticidal protein interactions

Frederick S. Walters, Gerson Graser, Andrea Burns, Alan Raybould

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many studies have been conducted to investigate synergism among insecticidal proteins; however, a consensus on minimal data requirements and interpretation is lacking. While some have concluded that all additive predictive-type models should be abandoned, we advocate that additivity models can remain useful as assessment tools and that an appropriately designed interaction study will never systematically underestimate the existence of synergism, irrespective of which additivity model (or none at all) may be used. To generate the most meaningful synergy assessment datasets in support of safety assessments, we highlight two beneficial steps to follow: (i) select a testing model which is the most consistent with current knowledge regarding the action of the insecticidal proteins and (ii) avoid using bioassay methods which may result in excess response heterogeneity. We also outline other experimental design elements to consider, which may be crucial for conducting future studies of this type. A contrast of underlying testing assumptions associated with the additivity models is provided, along with a comprehensive review of interaction data for Cry1, Cry2, Cry3, Cry9, and Vip3A insecticidal proteins. Our review captures four recurrent findings: i) experiments reporting synergistic interactions are a minority, ii) the degree of synergism reported is low in magnitude, iii) reported interactions are sometimes equivocal/inconclusive due to unconfirmed model assumptions or other bioassay challenges, and iv) due to biological response variation many of the reported interactions may be artefactual. A brief overview of the positioning of interaction testing data in safety assessments of GM food crops is also provided.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-497
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Entomology
Volume47
Issue number2
Early online date8 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • bacillus thuringiensis
  • synergism, interaction
  • cry
  • vip

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