Differential performance of a specialist and two generalist herbivores and their parasitoids on Plantago lanceolata

J.H. Reudler Talsma, A. Biere, J.A. Harvey, S. van Nouhuys

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The ability to cope with plant defense chemicals differs between specialist and generalist species. In this study, we examined the effects of the concentration of the two main iridoid glycosides (IGs) in Plantago lanceolata, aucubin and catalpol, on the performance of a specialist and two generalist herbivores and their respective endoparasitoids. Development of the specialist herbivore Melitaea cinxia was unaffected by the total leaf IG concentration in its host plant. By contrast, the generalist herbivores Spodoptera exigua and Chrysodeixis chalcites showed delayed larval and pupal development on plant genotypes with high leaf IG concentrations, respectively. This result is in line with the idea that specialist herbivores are better adapted to allelochemicals in host plants on which they are specialized. Melitaea cinxia experienced less post-diapause larval and pupal mortality on its local Finnish P. lanceolata than on Dutch genotypes. This could not be explained by differences in IG profiles, suggesting that M. cinxia has adapted in response to attributes of its local host plants other than to IG chemistry. Development of the specialist parasitoid Cotesia melitaearum was unaffected by IG variation in the diet of its host M. cinxia, a response that was concordant with that of its host. By contrast, the development time responses of the generalist parasitoids Hyposoter didymator and Cotesia marginiventris differed from those of their generalist hosts, S. exigua and C. chalcites. While their hosts developed slowly on high-IG genotypes, development time of H. didymator was unaffected. Cotesia marginiventris actually developed faster on hosts fed high-IG genotypes, although they then had short adult longevity. The faster development of C. marginiventris on hosts that ate high-IG genotypes is in line with the “immunocompromized host” hypothesis, emphasizing the potential negative effects of toxic allelochemicals on the host’s immune response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-778
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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