, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 323-332

Influence of plant genotype and environment on oviposition preference and offspring survival in a gallmaking herbivore

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Summary

Plant resistance to insect herbivores may derive from traits influencing herbivore preference, traits influencing the suitability of the plant as a host, or both. However, the plant traits influencing host-plant selection by ovipositing insect herbivores may not completely overlap those traits that affect larval survival, and distinct traits may exhibit different levels of genetic vs. environmental control. Therefore, resource supply to the host plant could affect oviposition preference and larval performance differently in different plant genotypes. To test this hypothesis, the effects of resistance level, plant genotype, and resource supply to the host plant on oviposition preference and larval performance of a gallmaking herbivore, and on various plant traits that could influence these, were examined. Replicates of four genotypes of Solidago altissima, grown under low, medium, or high levels of nutrient supply in full sun or with medium levels of nutrients in shade, were exposed to mass-released Eurosta solidaginis. The number of plants ovipunctured was significantly affected by plant genotype and the interaction between genotype and nutrient supply to the host plant: one susceptible and one resistant genotype were more preferred, and preference tended to increase with nutrient supply in the more-preferred genotypes. The growth rate of ovipunctured plants during the oviposition period was significantly greater than that of unpunctured plants. Bud diameter (which was strongly correlated with plant growth rate), leaf area, and leaf water content were significant determinants of the percentage of plants ovipunctured, explaining 74% of the variance. The number of surviving larvae was significantly affected by plant genotype, but no effect of nutrient or light supply to the host plant was detected. The ratio of bud diameter to bud length was positively related to the percentage of ovipunctured plants that formed galls, suggesting that the accurate placement of eggs near the apical meristem by ovipositing females may be easier in short, thick buds. No significant correlation was observed between oviposition preference and larval survival at the population level. These results suggest that the plant traits affecting oviposition preference may exhibit different magnitudes of phenotypic plasticity than those affecting larval survival, and that the degree of phenotypic plasticity in plant traits affecting oviposition preference may differ among genotypes within a species.