In nature, plants defend themselves by production of allelochemicals that are toxic to herbivores. There may be considerable genetic variation in the expression of chemical defenses because of various selection pressures. In this study, we examined the development of the small cabbage butterfly, Pieris rapae, and its gregarious pupal ectoparasitoid, Pteromalus puparum, when reared on three wild populations (Kimmeridge, Old Harry, Winspit) of cabbage, Brassica oleracea, and a Brussels sprout cultivar. Wild plant populations were obtained from seeds of plants that grow naturally along the south coast of Dorset, England. Significant differences in concentrations of allelochemicals (glucosinolates) were found in leaves of plants damaged by P. rapae. Total glucosinolate concentrations in Winspit plants, the population with the highest total glucosinolate concentration, were approximately four times higher than in the cultivar, the strain with the lowest total glucosinolate concentration. Pupal mass of P. rapae and adult body mass of Pt. puparum were highest when reared on the cultivar and lowest when developing on Kimmeridge plants, the wild strain with the lowest total glucosinolate concentration. Development of male parasitoids was also more negatively affected than female parasitoids. Our results reveal that plant quality, at least for the development of ‘adapted’ oligophagous herbivores, such as P. rapae, is not based on total glucosinolate content. The only glucosinolate compound that corresponded with the performance of P. rapae was the indole glucosinolate, neoglucobrassicin. Our results show that performance of ectoparasitoids may closely reflect constraints on the development of the host.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Journal publication date2007

ID: 352617