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Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 33, Issue 11, pp 2044–2053 | Cite as

Interspecific Variation Within the Genus Asclepias in Response to Herbivory by a Phloem-feeding Insect Herbivore

  • Caralyn B. Zehnder
  • Mark D. Hunter
Article

Abstract

Induced plant responses to leaf-chewing insects have been well studied, but considerably less is known about the effects of phloem-feedings insects on induction. In a set of laboratory experiments, we examined density-dependent induction by the milkweed-oleander aphid, Aphis nerii, of putative defenses in four milkweed species (Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias syriaca, Asclepias tuberosa, and Asclepias viridis). We hypothesized that high aphid density would lead to increased cardenolide expression in species with low constitutive levels of cardenolides (e.g., A. tuberosa), but that there would be no induction in high constitutive cardenolide species (e.g., A. viridis). Based on previous studies, we did not expect cardenolide induction in A. incarnata. Contrary to our predictions, we observed feeding-induced declines of cardenolide concentrations in A. viridis. Cardenolide concentrations did not respond to aphid feeding in the other three milkweed species. Aphids also caused reductions in biomass accumulation by two of four Asclepias species, A. viridis and A. incarnata. High aphid density led to a decrease in A. viridis foliar nitrogen concentration. However, aphids had no effect on the defensive chemistry, growth, or nutritional quality of either A. syriaca or A. tuberosa. Our results highlight that congeneric plant species may respond differently to the same levels of herbivore damage.

Keywords

Aphis nerii Asclepias Cardenolide Density-dependence Induction milkweeds Plant defense 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank J. Castings, P. Doty, M. Fleming, T. Maddox, and S. Scott for laboratory and field assistance. We thank B. Ball, W. Duncan, K. Wickings, and four anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions concerning this manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EcologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and School of Natural Resources and EnvironmentUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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