Aboveground and belowground herbivore species modify plant defense responses differently. Simultaneous attack can lead to non-additive effects on primary and secondary metabolite composition in roots and shoots. We previously found that aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae) population growth on Brassica oleracea was reduced on plants that were infested with nematodes (Heterodera schachtii) prior (4 weeks) to aphid infestation. Here, we examined how infection with root-feeding nematodes affected primary and secondary metabolites in the host plant and whether this could explain the increase in aphid doubling time from 3.8 to 6.7 days. We hypothesized that the effects of herbivores on plant metabolites would depend on the presence of the other herbivore and that nematode-induced changes in primary metabolites would correlate with reduced aphid performance. Total glucosinolate concentration in the leaves was not affected by nematode presence, but the composition of glucosinolates shifted, as gluconapin concentrations were reduced, while gluconapoleiferin concentrations increased in plants exposed to nematodes. Aphid presence increased 4-methoxyglucobrassicin concentrations in leaves, which correlated positively with the number of aphids per plant. Nematodes decreased amino acid and sugar concentrations in the phloem. Aphid population doubling time correlated negatively with amino acids and glucosinolate levels in leaves, whereas these correlations were non-significant when nematodes were present. In conclusion, the effects of an herbivore on plant metabolites were independent of the presence of another herbivore. Nematode presence reduced aphid population growth and disturbed feeding relations between plants and aphids.
Hol, W. H. G., De Boer, W., Termorshuizen, A. J., Meyer, K. M., Schneider, J. H. M., Van der Putten, W. H., & Van Dam, N. M. (2013). Heterodera schachtii nematodes interfere with aphid-plant relations on Brassica oleracea. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 39(9), 1193-1203. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-013-0338-4