, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 559–565 | Cite as

Evolutionary adaptation to host plants in a laboratory population of the phytophagous mite Tetranychus urticae Koch

  • James D. Fry
Original Papers


For evolutionary expansion of host range to occur in an herbivore population, genetic variation in ability to survive on and/or accept new hosts must be present. To determine whether a population of the phytophagous mite Tetranychus urticae contained such variation, I established lines from the population on two hosts on which mites initially showed both high juvenile mortality and low acceptance, tomato and broccoli. In less than ten generations, mites from the line kept on each host showed both lower mortality and greater acceptance on it than mites from a control line kept on lima bean, a favorable host for T. urticae. Host acceptance was measured by the proportion of mites attempting to disperse from leaves of the host. The line kept on tomato but not the one kept on broccoli also increased in development rate on its host. These results and those of a similar previous experiment on cucumber indicate that T. urticae populations can adapt to a diversity of initially unfavorable hosts. T. urticae populations therefore should be able to respond to temporal and spatial variation in host availability by adapting to the most abundant hosts.

Key words

Host plant adaptation Spider mites Acari Tetranychidae Genetic variation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • James D. Fry
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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