Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 287–302

Effects of Quantitative Variation in Allelochemicals in Plantago lanceolata on Development of a Generalist and a Specialist Herbivore and their Endoparasitoids

  • Jeffrey A. Harvey
  • Saskya Van Nouhuys
  • Arjen Biere


Studies in crop species show that the effect of plant allelochemicals is not necessarily restricted to herbivores, but can extend to (positive as well as negative) effects on performance at higher trophic levels, including the predators and parasitoids of herbivores. We examined how quantitative variation in allelochemicals (iridoid glycosides) in ribwort plantain, Plantago lanceolata, affects the development of a specialist and a generalist herbivore and their respective specialist and generalist endoparasitoids. Plants were grown from two selection lines that differed ca. 5-fold in the concentration of leaf iridoid glycosides. Development time of the specialist herbivore, Melitaea cinxia, and its solitary endoparasitoid, Hyposoter horticola, proceeded most rapidly when reared on the high iridoid line, whereas pupal mass in M. cinxia and adult mass in H. horticola were unaffected by plant line. Cotesia melitaearum, a gregarious endoparasitoid of M. cinxia, performed equally well on hosts feeding on the two lines of P. lanceolata. In contrast, the pupal mass of the generalist herbivore, Spodoptera exigua, and the emerging adult mass of its solitary endoparasitoid, C. marginiventris, were significantly lower when reared on the high line, whereas development time was unaffected. The results are discussed with regards to (1) differences between specialist and generalist herbivores and their natural enemies to quantitative variation in plant secondary chemistry, and (2) potentially differing selection pressures on plant defense.


Chemical defense iridoid glycosides Melitaea cinxia multitrophic interactions Plantago lanceolata Spodoptera exigua 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey A. Harvey
    • 1
  • Saskya Van Nouhuys
    • 2
    • 3
  • Arjen Biere
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Multitrophic InteractionsNetherlands Institute of Ecology NIOO-KNAWThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyCornell University Corson HallIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Metapopulation Research Group, Department of Ecology and SystematicsUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Department of Plant Population BiologyNetherlands Institute of Ecology NIOO-KNAWHeterenThe Netherlands

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