Benefits of Bt Corn Go Beyond Rootworm Resistance
Published on 6 February 2012
Engineered to produce the bacterial toxin, Bt, "Bt corn" resists attack by corn rootworm, a pest that feeds on roots and can cause annual losses of up to $1 billion. But besides merely protecting against these losses, the Bt trait has also boosted corn yields, in some cases beyond normal expectations. So what makes it so successful?
Fred Below and Jason Haegele of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set out to answer that question by determining how Bt corn uses nitrogen in the soil [...]
The researchers conducted experiments over two years, growing resistant and non-resistant crops and applying five different amounts of nitrogen. The resistant corn had higher yields than the non-resistant crops (nearly 21 bushels per acre) and more easily tolerated low nitrogen levels [...]