Variability in host plant chemistry: behavioural responses and life-history parameters of the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata)
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- Lyytinen, A., Lindström, L., Mappes, J. et al. Chemoecology (2007) 17: 51. doi:10.1007/s00049-006-0361-9
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Many studies investigating effects of plant chemicals on herbivore performance have reported contradictory results, perhaps because of possible interaction between different chemicals. Also, a herbivore’s performance is not necessarily consistent with its food or oviposition preference. Our aim was to investigate simultaneously antibiosis (larval growth and survival) and antixenosis (oviposition and feeding preferences) responses in herbivore to three plant chemicals, of which one is expected to have positive and two are expected to have negative effects. Antibiosis was measured by correlating the nitrogen and glycoalkaloid levels in host plants to the survival and adult size of Leptinotarsa decemlineata, by rearing larvae on whole plants of three potato varieties. Although host plants differed in their glycoalkaloid levels, survival rate and adult body size did not differ among beetles reared on different potato varieties. This suggests that beetles are quite robust for differences in both foliar α-chaconine and foliar α-solanine content. However, differences in antixenosis were found although they could not be directly predicted from the leaf chemistry. Females preferred to lay their eggs on the variety with high α-solanine content (Nevsky) towards which males showed a tendency to feeding preference. Overall, our results confirm that beetles are well adapted to the chemical defences of potato plants as potato varieties did not significantly affect beetle performance, but differences in oviposition preference may still result in major differences in the amount of damage inflicted on plants in the fields.