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Mother really knows best: host choice of adult phytophagous insect females reflects a within-host variation in suitability as larval food
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2010 (English)In: Chemoecology, ISSN 0937-7409, E-ISSN 1423-0445, Vol. 20, no 1, 35-42 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Non-random distribution patterns of specialized phytophagous insects on their hosts may depend on intraspecific differences in plant tissue quality, including nutrients and secondary compounds. Secondary compounds are involved in plant resistance, but are also important for the recognition and acceptability of plants as resources by specialized insects. If individuals within a plant species vary in their content of such secondary substances, there may also be qualitative differences between them. In such cases, natural selection will favor insects with the ability to distinguish and prefer the more suitable plants. In Sweden, the leaf beetle Gonioctena linnaeana Schrank (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae) is highly specialized on one host, the native willow Salix triandra L (Salicaceae). Field observations reveal that some host plants in a population harbor many feeding larvae, causing severe defoliation, whereas neighboring plants may have few or no feeding larvae. Our hypothesis is that the distribution pattern of G. linnaeana larvae in this population results from qualitative differences between individual host plants in combination with the ability of G. linnaeana females to distinguish between plants that are suitable and not suitable for offspring performance. We examine whether larval survival differs depending on diet and whether the content of secondary chemical compounds explains female preference. Based on the higher survival rate of larvae reared on leaves from preferred hosts, we conclude that G. linnaeana females have evolved a behavior that maximizes offspring performance and thus positively affects female fitness. A chemical survey of the plants indicates that luteolin-7-glucoside and an unidentified flavonoid are important for separating the preferred from the non-preferred plants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Basel: Birkhauser , 2010. Vol. 20, no 1, 35-42 p.
Keyword [en]
secondary compounds, host choice, food choice, Salix triandra, Gonioctena linnaeana
National Category
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Ecology Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109636DOI: 10.1007/s00049-010-0040-8ISI: 000275420000005OAI: diva2:858537
Available from: 2015-10-02 Created: 2015-10-02 Last updated: 2016-08-26Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Spatial patterns in the interaction between Salix triandra and associated parasites
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Spatial patterns in the interaction between Salix triandra and associated parasites
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on mechanisms and processes underlying spatial patterns of resistance and virulence and on local adaptations in plant–parasite interactions. The model system used comprises the plant host Salix triandra, the pathogenic rust fungus Melampsora amygdalinae, the leaf beetle Gonioctena linnaeana, and the galler Pontania triandrae. In this work, I (1) emphasize the most important factors determining the outcome of a plant–pathogen interaction, and the types of systems in which local adaptations can be expected, (2) examine the resistance structures of different populations of S. triandra, and whether the leaf beetle G. linnaeana responds to the local conditions of the populations of S. triandra in Sweden, and (3) address whether the distribution of parasites on S. triandra can be explained by the plant content of secondary metabolites.

A review of several studies of the subject leads to the conclusion that adaptation of pathogens to their local hosts is more likely to be found in systems in which the pathogen is host-specific, non-systemic, and has a larger dispersal range and evolutionary potential than its host does. Furthermore, the scale of the study must be adjusted to that of the pathogen’s local population distribution. In addition, the temporary nature of host–pathogen interactions influences the importance of sample size, and too-small sample sizes can lower the chance of finding local adaptations, even though they may have evolved in a given system. The results of an inoculation experiment using material from physically isolated natural populations of S. triandra and M. amygdalinae confirm the importance of previous conclusions.

Spatial variation in the resistance structure of S. triandra also has effects on the insect herbivore G. linnaeana, which has responded by adapting to the local hosts. However, local differences in secondary chemistry affect different parasites in different ways, and while P. triandrae is attracted by high levels of phenolic compounds, including tannins, M. amygdalinae and G. linnaeana are more rarely found on plant individuals with high concentrations of tannins. In addition, brood deposition by adult females of G. linnaeana and the performance of larvae are positively affected by luteolin-7-glucoside and an additional unidentified flavonoid, whereas they are negatively affected by the presence of (+)-catechin and high levels of tannins.

Our results also show that plants traits that provide resistance to one type of parasite do not necessarily provide resistance to others. This indicates that different natural enemies potentially assert divergent selection pressure on S. triandra phenotypes which can be important for maintaining phenotypic variation in plant species.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap, 2006. 31 p.
Gonioctena linnaeana, host-parasite interactions, leaf beetle, local adaptation, Melampsora amygdalinae, phenolics, pathogens, plant host, secondary chemistry
National Category
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-798 (URN)91-7264-025-1 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2006-06-09, Stora Hörsalen, KBC, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2006-05-11 Created: 2006-05-11 Last updated: 2016-08-26Bibliographically approved

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Wennström, AndersNiemi Hjulström, Lena
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