High resource availability can reduce anti-herbivore resistance (a plant’s ability to defend against herbivores and reduce damage) in rice, Oryza sativa L, but may also increase tolerance (a plant’s ability to withstand damage by, for example, compensatory growth). Through a series of greenhouse, screenhouse and field experiments, this study examines fitness (survival and development × reproduction) of the brown planthopper, Nilaparvata lugens (Stål), on resistant (IR62) and susceptible (IR22) rice varieties and age-related rice tolerance to planthopper damage under varying resource (nitrogenous fertilizer) availability. Planthoppers reared on IR62 in the greenhouse had lower fitness than planthoppers on IR22. IR62 became increasingly resistant as plants aged. IR22 was generally more tolerant of planthopper damage, and tolerance increased in IR22, but declined in IR62, as the plants aged. Rice plants infested at pre-tillering stages (3–4 leaf stage) in the screenhouse had greater losses to root, shoot and grain yield per unit weight of planthopper than plants infested at tillering stages, particularly in IR22. These trends were mainly due to the impact of planthoppers during pre-tillering stages and the length of exposure to the planthoppers. High nitrogen compromised IR62 resistance, particularly in tillering plants in the greenhouse study; however, high nitrogen did not increase planthopper biomass-density on IR62 in greenhouse or field cages. Tolerance to damage in IR62 at mid-tillering stages declined under increasing levels of nitrogen, but nitrogen increased tolerance during late-tillering stages. Planthopper damage to IR22 in field cages was severe and hopperburn (plant death) occurred in 83% of IR22 plants under high nitrogen (60–150 kg N ha−1). In contrast, despite planthopper infestations, damage to IR62 was low in field-grown plants and productivity (tillers, roots, shoots and grain) increased in IR62 under increasing nitrogen. Our results indicate that, whereas nitrogenous fertilizer increases planthopper fitness on susceptible and resistant varieties, the net effects of high nitrogen on IR62 include decreased planthopper biomass-density (apparent in all experiments) and higher tolerance to damage during later growth stages (observed in the greenhouse, and during one of two seasons in field cages)
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