Induced plant defenses breached? Phytochemical induction protects an herbivore from disease
- Cite this article as:
- Hunter, M.D. & Schultz, J.C. Oecologia (1993) 94: 195. doi:10.1007/BF00341317
- 158 Downloads
Although wound-induced responses in plants are widespread, neither the ecological nor the evolutionary significance of phytochemical induction is clear. Several studies have shown, for example, that induced responses can act against both plant pathogens and herbivores simultaneously. We present the first evidence that phytochemical induction can inhibit a pathogen of the herbivore responsible for the defoliation. In 1990, we generated leaf damage by enclosing gypsy moth larvae on branches of red oak trees. We then inoculated a second cohort of larvae with a nuclear polyhedrosis virus (LdNPV) on foliage from the damaged branches. Larvae were less susceptible to virus consumed on foliage from branches with increasing levels of defoliation, and with higher concentrations of gallotannin. Defoliation itself was not related to any of our chemistry measures. Field sampling supported the results of our experiments: death from virus among feral larvae collected from unmanipulated trees was also negatively correlated with defoliation. In 1991, defoliation and gallotannin were again found to inhibit the virus. In addition, gallotannin concentrations were found to be positively correlated with defoliation the previous year. Compared with previous results that demonstrated a delecterious effect of induction on gypsy moth pupal weight and fecundity, the inhibition of the virus should confer an advantage to the gypsy moth. Since leaf damage levels increase as gypsy moth density increases, and since leaf damage inhibits the gypsy moth virus, there is the potential for positive feedback in the system. If phytochemical induction in red oak can inhibit an animal pathogen such as LdNPV, it suggests to us that induction in red oak is a generalized response to tissue damage rather than an adaptive defense against herbivores.