Oecologia

, Volume 133, Issue 4, pp 541–550

Diversity of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Senecio species does not affect the specialist herbivore Tyria jacobaeae

  • Mirka Macel
  • Peter G. Klinkhamer
  • Klaas Vrieling
  • Ed van der Meijden
Plant Animal Interactions

Abstract.

The evolution of the diversity of related secondary metabolites in plants is still poorly understood. It is often thought that the evolution of plant secondary metabolites is driven by specialist insect herbivores and under this coevolutionary model it is expected that related compounds differ in their effects on specialist herbivores. Here we focus on the diversity of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) in Senecio species and their effects on Tyria jacobaeae, a specialist moth on Senecio jacobaea. As a first step to determine the effects of related PAs on T. jacobaeae, we studied larval performance on plants from 11 S. jacobaea populations and eight Senecio species with different PA compositions. Although the populations of S. jacobaea differed in their PA compositions, there was no difference in larval performance among the populations. Larval performance differed among the eight species but we could not show a correlation with PA composition. Oviposition choice experiments showed a strong correlation between oviposition preference and larval performance on the eight species but oviposition preference did not seem to be correlated with PAs. We found no indications that related PAs differ in effects on the specialist T. jacobaeae; therefore it seems unlikely that T. jacobaeae is a driving force behind the evolution of the diversity of PAs. Alternatively, we propose that the evolution of the diversity of PAs is driven by selection pressure from generalist herbivores or that the diversity of PAs may even be selectively neutral.

Coevolution Larval performance Oviposition choice Senecio jacobaea Chemical diversity 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirka Macel
    • 1
  • Peter G. Klinkhamer
    • 1
  • Klaas Vrieling
    • 1
  • Ed van der Meijden
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Evolutionary and Ecological SciencesLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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