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Genetic variation in the defense chemistry in wild cabbages affects herbivores and their endoparasitoids

By Rieta Gols, R. Wagenaar, Tibor Bukovinsky, Nicole M. van Dam, Marcel Dicke, James M. Bullock and Jeffrey A. Harvey


Populations of wild Brassica oleracea L. grow naturally along the Atlantic coastlines of the United Kingdom and France. Over a very small spatial scale (i.e., <15 km) these populations differ in the expression of the defensive compounds, glucosinolates (GS). Thus far, very few studies have examined interactions between genetically distinct populations of a wild plant species and associated consumers in a multitrophic framework. Here, we compared the development of a specialist (Pieris rapae) and a generalist (Mamestra brassicae) insect herbivore and their endoparasitoids (Cotesia rubecula and Microplitis mediator, respectively) on three wild populations and one cultivar of B. oleracea under controlled greenhouse conditions. Herbivore performance was differentially affected by the plant population on which they were reared. Plant population influenced only development time and pupal mass in P. rapae, whereas plant population also had a dramatic effect on survival of M. brassicae. Prolonged development time in P. rapae corresponded with high levels of the indole GS, neoglucobrassicin, whereas reduced survival in M. brassicae coincided with high levels of the aliphatic GS, gluconapin and sinigrin. The difference between the two species can be explained by the fact that the specialist P. rapae is adapted to feed on plants containing GS and has evolved an effective detoxification system against aliphatic GS. The different B. oleracea populations also affected development of the endoparasitoids. Differences in food-plant quality for the hosts were reflected in adult size in C. rubecula and survival in M. mediator, and further showed that parasitoid performance is also affected by herbivore diet

Topics: Biology and Microbiology, Ecology and Environment
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1890/07-0873.1
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