, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 143–155 | Cite as

Cyanogenic glycosides in Lotus corniculatus

Their effect upon growth, energy budget, and nitrogen utilization of the southern armyworm, Spodoptera eridania
  • J. Mark Scriber


Two genotypes (one cyanogenic and the other acyanogenic) of birds-foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus L., were used to study the effects of cyanogenic glycosides in leaf tissues upon a polyphagous herbivore, the southern armyworm, Spodoptera eridania Cram. (Lepidoptera). No differences were observed in consumption rate, assimilation efficiency, utilization of plant biomass, or metabolic costs in terms of expended calories between larvae fed acyanogenic or cyanogenic leaves. Similarly no differences were seen in the nitrogen or caloric utilization efficiencies, or in the nitrogen accumulation rate or growth rate of larvae on cyanogenic versus acyanogenic plants. Larval performance and growth on 20-week old plants was generally poorer than on 4 week old plants, however. This was reflected in slower growth, smaller pupal weights, lower nitrogen utilization efficiencies (N.U.E.) and biomass assimilation efficiencies (A.D.) on both the cyanogenic and acyanogenic plants.

Although useful as a deterrent to some herbivores, cyanogenesis does not seem to provide an effective defense against this “adapted” herbivore. This study supports current hypotheses of insect/plant coevolution, and suggests that the metabolic costs of processing cyanogenic plant biomass are small in comparison to those imposed by the nutritional status of the plant leaves.


Plant Biomass Utilization Efficiency Metabolic Cost Assimilation Efficiency Pupal Weight 
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© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Mark Scriber
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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