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Effects of nutrient and water stress on leaf phenolic content of peppers and susceptibility to generalist herbivoreHelicoverpa armigera (Hubner)

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Pepper plants were grown under different water and nitrogen availabilities that produced severe nitrogen limitations and mild water stress. Nitrogen limitation produced lower leaf N content, higher C:N, and higher leaf content of phenolic compounds, in consonance with the carbon/nutrient balance hypothesis. Nitrogen limitation also produced lower nutritional quality of leaves, with lower relative growth rates and lower efficiency of conversion of ingested biomass on the polyphagous herbivoreHelicoverpa armigera. The biomass gained per gram nitrogen ingested also tended to be lower in those insects feeding on nitrogen-limited plants, in parallel with their higher phenolic content. However, larvae fed on nitrogen-limited plants did not increase the ingestion of food to compensate for the N deficiency of leaves. The mild water stress, which only slightly tended to increase the phenolic content of pepper leaves, had no significant effect on nutritional indices.

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Correspondence to M. Estiarte.

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Estiarte, M., Filella, I., Serra, J. et al. Effects of nutrient and water stress on leaf phenolic content of peppers and susceptibility to generalist herbivoreHelicoverpa armigera (Hubner). Oecologia 99, 387–391 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00627753

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Key words

  • Nitrogen
  • Water
  • Phenolics
  • Peppers
  • Herbivorous insect