Different soybean cultivars respond differentially to damage in a herbivore-specific manner and decreas herbivore performance

  • Berenice Romero
  • Francisco M. Dillon
  • Jorge A. ZavalaEmail author
Original Paper


This study demonstrates that soybean cultivars respond differentially to damage in a herbivore-specific manner, and trigger responses decreasing herbivore performance. Soybean crops are affected by a great number of insect herbivores, resulting in devastating yield losses. Secondary metabolites like proteinase inhibitors and phenolic compounds are part of plants’ defense mechanisms against insect pests. However, the specificity of soybean defense responses to different attacking herbivores is poorly known. To investigate species-specific foliage responses to herbivory, we used two different commercial soybean cultivars (DM 4210 and DM 5.8i) widely used in Argentina with diverse susceptibility to insects’ attack and two species of phytophagous insects, thrips (Caliothrips phaseoli; Thysanoptera) and lepidopteran larvae (Spodoptera frugiperda; Lepidoptera) with a different way of feeding. Benzoic acid derivative levels were increased by damage of both insect species in the foliage of the field-grown soybean cultivars, whereas trypsin protease inhibitors activity was induced in cultivar (cv) DM 4210 by fall armyworm damage and malonyl genistein content in cv DM 5.8i after thrips’ attack. Although survivorship and mass of fall armyworm larvae were not differentially affected in field conditions by soybean cultivars, larvae reared in the laboratory that fed on cv DM 5.8i gained more mass than those on DM 4210. Conversely, thrips performance, natural colonization, and preference of feeding were higher on cv DM 4210 than on cv DM 5.8i. The differential effects of soybean cultivars on insectspecies’ performance were explained not only by induced defenses, but also by differences of constitutive defenses between cultivars. This study demonstrated that soybean cultivars responded differentially to damage in a herbivore-specific manner, and triggered responses decreased herbivore performance.


Plant–insect interactions Glycine max leguminosae Spodoptera frugiperda larvae Thrips Proteinase inhibitors Phenolics 



We thank Laura Ventura for supplying fall armyworm eggs and Carla Zilli for allowing us to collect adult thrips in the Faculty’s greenhouses. This study was supported by Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) and Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (MINCyT). The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11829_2019_9730_MOESM1_ESM.docx (43 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 43 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad de Buenos Aires, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Intendente GüiraldesBuenos AiresArgentina
  2. 2.Universidad de Buenos Aires, Cátedra de Bioquímica, Facultad de AgronomíaBuenos AiresArgentina
  3. 3.INBA, Universidad de Buenos AiresBuenos AiresArgentina
  4. 4.Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y TécnicasBuenos AiresArgentina

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