Effects of resource quality on the population dynamics of the Indian meal moth Plodiainterpunctella and its granulovirus
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Although the Plodia interpunctella-granulovirus system is one of the most studied models for insect-pathogen interactions, there are relatively few precise data on the dynamics of the virus in coexisting populations of these two organisms. Previous work has suggested that resource quality, in terms of the diet supplied to P. interpunctella, has a strong effect on the population dynamics of host and pathogen. Here we investigate the impact of resource-dependent host patterns of abundance on pathogen dynamics and prevalence. In the laboratory, three populations of P. interpunctella feeding on a good quality food and infected with a granulovirus were compared with three populations also infected with a granulovirus but feeding on poor quality food. Populations feeding on good quality food produced larger adult moths, and had greater numbers of adult moths, healthy larvae, and virus-infected larvae. A higher proportion of larvae in these good quality populations were infected with virus, and adult moths exhibited cyclic fluctuations in abundance, unlike those on poor quality food. This cyclic behaviour was shown to be associated with cycles in the age structure of the larval population. Previous theoretical work suggests that these cycles may result from asymmetric competition between young and old larvae. Cyclic fluctuations in the proportion of infected larvae, that occurred on good, but not on poor quality food, were also shown to be related to cycles in the age structure of the larval population.
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