Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 1289–1313 | Cite as

Effects of Genotype, Nutrient Availability, and Defoliation on Aspen Phytochemistry and Insect Performance

  • Tod L. Osier
  • Richard L. Lindroth


Genetic and environmental variability, and their interactions, influence phytochemical composition and, in turn, herbivore performance. We evaluated the independent and interactive effects of plant genotype, nutrient availability, and defoliation on the foliar chemistry of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) and consequences for performance of gypsy moths (Lymantria dispar). Saplings of four genotypes were grown under two conditions of nutrient availability and subjected to three levels of artificial defoliation. Concentrations of all secondary and primary metabolites evaluated responded to at least one or more of the experimental treatments. Of the secondary metabolites, phenolic glycosides were affected strongly by genotype, less so by nutrient availability, and not induced by defoliation. Condensed tannins were strongly dependent upon genotype, soil nutrient availability, and their interaction, and, in contrast to phenolic glycosides, were induced by artificial defoliation. Of the primary metabolites, foliar nitrogen was affected by genotype and soil nutrient availability. Starch concentrations were affected by genotype, nutrient availability, defoliation and interactions among these factors. Foliar water content responded to genotype, nutrient availability, and defoliation, and the effect of nutrient availability depended on genotype. Herbivore performance on these plants was strongly influenced by plant genotype and soil nutrient availability, but much less so by defoliation. Although several of the compound types (condensed tannins, starch, and water) responded to defoliation, quantitative variation in these compounds did not contribute to substantive changes in herbivore performance. Rather, the primary source of variation in insect performance was due to plant genotype (phenolic glycoside levels), while nutrient availability (foliar nitrogen levels) was of secondary importance. These results suggest that genetic variation in aspen plays a major role in determining patterns of insect performance, whereas environmental variation, such as was tested, here is of negligible importance.

Plant–insect interactions genotypic variability fertilization defoliation quaking aspen Populus tremuloides gypsy moth Lymantria dispar phenolic glycosides condensed tannins 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tod L. Osier
    • 1
  • Richard L. Lindroth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of Wisconsin--MadisonMadison

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