Future Research Needs

Clearly there is scope for further work on PI-expressing plants and pollinating insects, in the development of both laboratory-based tests with different dosages of PIs and field- or glasshouse-based tests with the plants themselves. This research will make a valuable contribution to the formulation of meaningful protocols for testing particular lines of plants intended for field release. The effects of PI-containing pollen ingestion on the development and behavior of worker honeybees in field hives require further examination, and the effects of PIs on the growth and survival of honeybee larvae, on the survival, fecundity and pheromone production capability of queen bees, and on the survival, fertility and mating success of drones need to be established (see Fig. 8.2).

As recombinant PI-expressing plants become available, further studies on their impact on foraging honeybees will be required. If the characteristics of the pollen or flowers of these plants are altered in such a way as to alter the bee's foraging decisions or behavior, then research will be needed to establish whether these characteristics have arisen as a consequence of a particular transformation event, or whether they will occur in every plant line created. It may be that these effects will vary depending on the plant species and PI in question, and that tests with foraging bees will need to be conducted on a case-by-case basis. However there may be some features of PI-expressing plants that will be common to all. Further studies are needed in order to establish some guiding principles in this area. Tests with PIs and PI-expressing plants should also be extended to other species of pollinators, particularly bumblebees.

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