Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 41–53 | Cite as

The responses of cucumber plants subjected to different salinity or fertilizer concentrations and reproductive success of Tetranychus urticae mites on these plants

  • Samira Khodayari
  • Fatemeh Abedini
  • David Renault


The plant stress hypothesis posits that a herbivore’s reproductive success increases when it feeds on stressed plants, while the plant vigor hypothesis predicts that a herbivore preferentially feeds on more vigorous plants. We examined these opposing hypotheses by growing spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) on the leaves of stressed and healthy (vigorous) cucumber plants. Host plants were grown under controlled conditions at low, moderate, and high concentrations of NaCl (to induce salinity stress), at low, moderate, and high fertilizer concentrations (to support growth), and without these additions (control). The effects of these treatments were evaluated by measuring fresh and dry plant biomass, carotenoid and chlorophyll content, antioxidant enzyme activity, and concentrations of PO43−, K+, and Na+ in plant tissues. The addition of low concentrations of fertilizer increased dry mass, protein, and carotenoid content relative to controls, suggesting a beneficial effect on plants. The highest NaCl treatment (2560 mg L−1) resulted in increased Na+ and protein content relative to control plants, as well as reduced PO43−, K+, and chlorophyll levels and reduced catalase and ascorbate peroxidase enzyme activity levels. Analysis of life table data of T. urticae mites raised on leaves from the aforementioned plant groups showed the intrinsic rate of increase (r) for mites was 0.167 day−1 in control specimens, 0.125 day−1 for mites reared on plants treated with a moderate concentration of fertilizer (10 mL L−1), and was highest (0.241 day−1) on plants grown under moderate salinity conditions (1920 mg L−1 NaCl). Reproductive success of T. urticae did not differ on plants watered with a moderate concentration of NaCl or a high concentration of fertilizer. The moderately-stressed plants formed a favorable environment for the development and reproduction of spider mites, supporting the plant stress hypothesis.


Fertilizer NaCl Salinity Plant vigor Stress Intrinsic rate of increase 



We would like to thank three anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions and comments on a previous version of our manuscript. This work was financially supported by the office of research affairs of the University of Maragheh.

Supplementary material

10493_2018_246_MOESM1_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 22 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samira Khodayari
    • 1
  • Fatemeh Abedini
    • 2
  • David Renault
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Plant Protection, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of MaraghehMaraghehIran
  2. 2.Department of Horticultural Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of MaraghehMaraghehIran
  3. 3.UMR CNRS 6553 EcoBioUniversity of Rennes 1Rennes CedexFrance
  4. 4.Institut Universitaire de FranceParis Cedex 05France

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