, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 71–82 | Cite as

Dealing with double trouble: consequences of single and double herbivory in Brassica juncea

  • Vartika MathurEmail author
  • Tom O. G. Tytgat
  • Rob M. de Graaf
  • Vinay Kalia
  • A. Sankara Reddy
  • Louise E. M. Vet
  • Nicole M. van Dam
Research Paper


In their natural environment, plants are often attacked simultaneously by many insect species. The specificity of induced plant responses that is reported after single herbivore attacks may be compromised under double herbivory and this may influence later arriving herbivores. The present study focuses on the dynamics of induced plant responses induced by single and double herbivory, and their effects on successive herbivores. Morphological (leaf length, area and trichome density) and chemical changes (leaf alkenyl and indole glucosinolates) in Brassica juncea were evaluated 4, 10, 14 and 20 days after damage by the specialist Plutella xylostella alone, or together with the generalist Spodoptera litura. To assess the biological effect of the plant’s responses, the preference and performance of both herbivores on previously induced plants were measured. We found that alkenyl glucosinolates were induced 20 days after damage by P. xylostella alone, whereas their levels were elevated as early as 4 days after double herbivory. Trichome density was increased in both treatments, but was higher after double herbivory. Interestingly, there was an overall decrease in indole glucosinolates and an increase in leaf size due to damage by P. xylostella, which was not observed during double damage. S. litura preferred and performed better on undamaged plants, whereas P. xylostella preferred damaged plants and performed better on plants damaged 14 and 10 days after single and double herbivory, respectively. Our results suggest that temporal studies involving single versus multiple attacker situations are necessary to comprehend the role of induced plant responses in plant–herbivore interactions.


Brassicaceae Plutella xylostella Spodoptera litura Double herbivory Temporal dynamics Induced response 



Many thanks to Amit Mathur for helping out with the behavioural bioassays. We acknowledge Om Prakash Singh for his assistance. This research was funded by Nuffic (Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education), The Netherlands, and University Grants Commission (UGC) major research project (no. 39-319/2010), India granted to Vartika Mathur.

Supplementary material

49_2012_120_MOESM1_ESM.docx (12 kb)
Supplementary table (DOCX 12 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vartika Mathur
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Tom O. G. Tytgat
    • 3
  • Rob M. de Graaf
    • 3
  • Vinay Kalia
    • 4
  • A. Sankara Reddy
    • 5
  • Louise E. M. Vet
    • 1
    • 6
  • Nicole M. van Dam
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Terrestrial EcologyNetherlands Institute of EcologyWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Zoology, Sri Venkateswara CollegeUniversity of DelhiNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.Department of Ecogenomics, Institute for Water and Wetland ResearchRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Division of EntomologyIndian Agricultural and Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  5. 5.Rai UniversityGujaratIndia
  6. 6.Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands

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