Intra-specific variation in wild Brassica oleracea for aphid-induced plant responses and consequences for caterpillar-parasitoid interactions.

Research paper by Yehua Y Li, Marcel M Dicke, Jeffrey A JA Harvey, Rieta R Gols

Indexed on: 02 Nov '13Published on: 02 Nov '13Published in: Oecologia


Herbivore-induced plant responses not only influence the initiating attackers, but also other herbivores feeding on the same host plant simultaneously or at a different time. Insects belonging to different feeding guilds are known to induce different responses in the host plant. Changes in a plant's phenotype not only affect its interactions with herbivores but also with organisms higher in the food chain. Previous work has shown that feeding by a phloem-feeding aphid on a cabbage cultivar facilitates the interaction with a chewing herbivore and its endoparasitoid. Here we study genetic variation in a plant's response to aphid feeding using plants originating from three wild Brassica oleracea populations that are known to differ in constitutive and inducible secondary chemistry. We compared the performance of two different chewing herbivore species, Plutella xylostella and M. brassicae, and their larval endoparasitoids Diadegma semiclausum and M. mediator, respectively, on plants that had been infested with aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae) for 1 week. Remarkably, early infestation with B. brassicae enhanced the performance of the specialist P. xylostella and its parasitoid D. semiclausum, but did not affect that of the generalist M. brassicae, nor its parasitoid M. mediator. Performance of the two herbivore-parasitoid interactions also varied among the cabbage populations and the effect of aphid infestation marginally differed among the three populations. Thus, the effect of aphid infestation on the performance of subsequent attackers is species specific, which may have concomitant consequences for the assembly of insect communities that are naturally associated with these plants.