Main content area

A Generalist Herbivore Copes with Specialized Plant Defence: the Effects of Induction and Feeding by Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Larvae on Intact Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicales) Plants

Zalucki, M. P., Zalucki, J. M., Perkins, L. E., Schramm, K., Vassão, D. G., Gershenzon, J., Heckel, D. G.
Journal of chemical ecology 2017 v.43 no.6 pp. 608-616
Arabidopsis thaliana, Helicoverpa armigera, glucosinolates, herbivores, insects, larvae, mutants, neonates, plant anatomy, poisonous plants, survival rate
Plants of the Brassicaceae are defended from feeding by generalist insects by constitutively-expressed and herbivory-induced glucosinolates (GS). We induced Arabidopsis plants 1, 16 and 24 h prior to allowing neonate larvae of the generalist Helicoverpa armigera to feed on whole plants for 72 h. These plants were subsequently retested with another group of neonates for a further 72 h. We used wild-type A. thaliana Col-0, and mutant lines lacking indolic GS, aliphatic GS or all GS. We hypothesized that larvae would not grow well on defended plants (WT) compared to those lacking GS, and would not grow well if plants had been primed or fed on for longer, due to the expected induced GS. There was survivorship on all lines suggesting H. armigera is a suitable generalist for these experiments. Larvae performed less well on wild-type and no indolic lines than on no aliphatic and no GS lines. Larvae distributed feeding damage extensively in all lines, more so on wild type and no-indolic lines. Contrary to expectations, larvae grew better on plants that had been induced for 1 to 16 h than on un-induced plants suggesting they moved to and selected less toxic plant parts within a heterogeneously defended plant. Performance declined on all lines if plants had been induced for 24 h, or had been fed upon for a further 72 h. However, contrary to expectation, individual and total GS did not increase after these two treatments. This suggests that Arabidopsis plants induce additional (not GS) defenses after longer induction periods.