Chemical diversity in Brassica oleracea affects biodiversity of insect herbivores

E.H. Poelman, N.M. Van Dam, J.J.A. van Loon, L.E.M. Vet, M. Dicke

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    Abstract

    Intraspecific variation in plants plays a major role in the composition and diversity of the associated insect community. Resistance traits of plants are likely candidates mediating community composition. However, it is debated whether total concentrations of chemical compounds or specific compounds determine herbivore resistance, and how chemical diversity among plant genotypes in turn affects the composition of the associated herbivore community. To study the role of specific chemical compounds in affecting the herbivore community, we used cultivated Brassica oleracea. The cultivars differ qualitatively in glucosinolate profile, i.e., foliar composition of different glucosinolate compounds, and only a little in total concentration of glucosinolates, the secondary metabolites specific for the Brassicaceae family. In field and laboratory experiments, we tested whether individual compounds explained differences in herbivore community compos In the field B. oleracea cultivars differed widely in species richness and composition of the herbivore community, as well as in the density of insects they harbored. Plants with high concentrations of the short side chain alkenyl glucosinolate, glucoiberin, harbored low herbivore diversity. Higher biodiversity was found when plants had glucosinolate profiles containing high concentrations of glucosinolates with elongated side chains, which are biosynthetically linked to glucoiberin. Although gl
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1863-1877
    JournalEcology
    Volume90
    Issue number7
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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