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Metabolome and ionome analyses reveal the stoichiometric effects of contrasting geological phosphorus soils on seed-parasitic insects in subtropical oak forests

  • Huawei Ji
  • Baoming Du
  • Jiahao Wen
  • Ningxiao Sun
  • Mingjun Peng
  • Hongmei Du
  • Chunjiang LiuEmail author
Original Article


Phosphorus (P)-rich sites develop on phosphate-rock ores, while the soils are generally characterized with P deficiency in subtropical areas, resulting in contrasting nutrient environments for plants and herbivores. It remains unclear how in situ herbivorous insects cope with such two extreme nutrient habitats in terms of metabolome and ionome. Here, we investigated the metabolome and ionome of the weevil larvae (Curculio davidi Fairmaire), which were parasitizing in Quercus variabilis acorns at P-rich and P-deficient sites. Our results showed that there were significant differences in 34 identified metabolites (belonging to sugars, amino acids, lipids, vitamins, nucleosides, etc.) and four chemical elements (P, S, Mg, and Zn) in the two weevil larva populations of the two P-type sites. Moreover, the concentrations of P, Mg, Zn and the identified sugars were significantly higher; however, S, amino acids, and several other N-containing metabolites were lower in the weevil larvae at the P-rich site, in contrast to those at the P-deficient site. Arginine and proline metabolism and glutathione metabolism were the most relevant pathways differentially regulated between the two weevil larva populations at the two contrasting sites. In addition, some metabolites in the weevil larvae were indirectly associated with the P, Mg, Zn, and S concentrations of soils through bottom-up effects. Our results suggested that in situ herbivorous consumers altered their metabolites to a certain extent to adapt to nutrient-varying environments; and there were strong interactions between the nutrients of herbivorous insects and soil elements across variable nutrient sites.


Metabolomics Ionomics Phosphate-rock ores Subtropics Herbivore 



This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31670626, 31270640, and 31070532) and the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFC0505501). We thank the Instrumental Analysis Center of Shanghai Jiao Tong University for the support on chemical analysis.

Declaration of authorship

C. Liu conceived and designed the experiments and wrote the manuscript. J. Wen, B. Du, N. Sun, and M. Peng performed the experiments. H. Ji and H. Du performed the experiments, analyzed the data, and wrote the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

49_2019_290_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (364 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 363 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Agriculture and BiologyShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Shanghai Urban Forest Research Station, State Forestry AdministrationShanghaiChina
  3. 3.Yunnan Academy of ForestryKunmingChina
  4. 4.Shanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  5. 5.Key Laboratory of Urban Agriculture (South)Ministry of AgricultureShanghaiChina

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