Journal of Chemical Ecology

, 34:1368 | Cite as

Combined Effect of Intercropping and Turnip Root Fly (Delia floralis) Larval Feeding on the Glucosinolate Concentrations in Cabbage Roots and Foliage

  • Maria BjörkmanEmail author
  • Richard J. Hopkins
  • Birgitta Rämert


The effects of plant competition and herbivory on glucosinolate concentrations in cabbage root and foliage were investigated in a cabbage-red clover intercropping system. Cabbage plants were grown under different competitive pressures and with varying degrees of attack by root-feeding Delia floralis larvae. Glucosinolate concentrations in cabbage were affected both by intercropping and by D. floralis density. Glucosinolate concentrations in foliage generally decreased as a response to intercropping, while the responses to insect root damage of individual glucosinolates were weaker. Root glucosinolates responded more strongly to both intercropping and egg density. Total root glucosinolate concentration decreased with clover density, but only at high egg densities. Increased egg density led to opposite reactions by the indole and aliphatic glucosinolates in roots. The responses of individual root glucosinolates to competition and root damage were complex and, on occasion, nonlinear. Reduced concentrations of several glucosinolates and the tendency towards a decrease in total concentration in cabbage foliage caused by intercropping and larval damage suggest that competing plants or plants with root herbivory do not allocate the same resources as unchallenged plants towards sustaining levels of leaf defensive compounds. This could also be true for root glucosinolate concentrations at high egg densities. In addition, the results suggest that changes occurring within a structural group of glucosinolates may be influenced by changes in a single compound, e.g., glucobrassicin (indol-3-ylmethyl) in foliage or sinigrin (2-propenyl) in roots.


Induced plant responses Indole glucosinolates Aliphatic glucosinolates Brassica Plant–herbivore interactions Plant competition 



This project was funded by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (FORMAS), and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Special thanks to Peter Hambäck, Department of Botany, Stockholm University, for help with the statistical analysis and comments on the manuscript. We would also like to thank Anna-Karin Borg-Karlsson, The Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden, for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Björkman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard J. Hopkins
    • 2
  • Birgitta Rämert
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Crop Production EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of EcologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.Department of Plant Protection BiologySwedish University of Agricultural SciencesAlnarpSweden

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