Effects of Arbuscular Mycorrhiza on Plant Chemistry and the Development and Behavior of a Generalist Herbivore
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Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) formed between plants and AM fungi (AMF) can alter host plant quality and thus influence plant-herbivore interactions. While AM is known to affect the development of generalist chewing-biting herbivores, AM-mediated impacts on insect behavior have been neglected until now. In this study, the effects of Rhizophagus irregularis, a generalist AMF, on phenotypic and leaf metabolic traits of Plantago major plants were investigated. Further, the influence of AM-mediated host plant modifications on the development and on seven behavioral traits of larvae of the generalist Mamestra brassicae were recorded. Tests were carried out in the third (L3) and fourth (L4) larval instar, respectively. While shoot water content, specific leaf area, and foliar concentrations of the secondary metabolite aucubin were higher in AM-treated compared to non-mycorrhized (NM) plants, lower concentrations of the primary metabolites citric acid and isocitric acid were found in leaves of AM plants. Larvae reared on AM plants gained a higher body mass and tended to develop faster than individuals reared on NM plants. However, plant treatment had no significant effect on any of the behavioral traits. Instead, differences between larvae of different ages were detected in several behavioral features, with L4 being less active and less bold than L3 larvae. The results demonstrate that AM-induced modifications of host plant quality influence larval development, whereas the behavioral phenotype seems to be more fixed at least under the tested conditions.
KeywordsRhizophagus irregularis Plantago major Phenotypic and metabolic plant traits Plant-fungus-herbivore interactions Mamestra brassicae Behavioral traits
Joop van Loon (Wageningen University) is thanked for providing us with eggs of Mamestra brassicae, Benjamin Wilden for support with rearing M. brassicae, and Franziska Buchholz for help in performing the bioassays. This work was funded by the grant MU1829/14-1 of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.
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