Herbivores alter plant-wind interactions by acting as a point mass on leaves and by removing leaf tissue.
ABSTRACT: In nature, plants regularly interact with herbivores and with wind. Herbivores can wound and alter the structure of plants, whereas wind can exert aerodynamic forces that cause the plants to flutter or sway. While herbivory has many negative consequences for plants, fluttering in wind can be beneficial for plants by facilitating gas exchange and loss of excess heat. Little is known about how herbivores affect plant motion in wind. We tested how the mass of an herbivore resting on a broad leaf of the tulip tree Liriodendron tulipifera, and the damage caused by herbivores, affected the motion of the leaf in wind. For this, we placed mimics of herbivores on the leaves, varying each herbivore's mass or position, and used high-speed video to measure how the herbivore mimics affected leaf movement and reconfiguration at two wind speeds inside a laboratory wind tunnel. In a similar setup, we tested how naturally occurring herbivore damage on the leaves affected leaf movement and reconfiguration. We found that the mass of an herbivore resting on a leaf can change that leaf's orientation relative to the wind and interfere with the ability of the leaf to reconfigure into a smaller, more streamlined shape. A large herbivore load slowed the leaf's fluttering frequency, while naturally occurring damage from herbivores increased the leaf's fluttering frequency. We conclude that herbivores can alter the physical interactions between wind and plants by two methods: (1) acting as a point mass on the plant while it is feeding and (2) removing tissue from the plant. Altering a plant's interaction with wind can have physical and physiological consequences for the plant. Thus, future studies of plants in nature should consider the effect of herbivory on plant-wind interactions, and vice versa.
Project description:Plant-mediated interactions are an important force in insect ecology. Through such interactions, herbivores feeding on leaves can affect root feeders. However, the mechanisms regulating the effects of above-ground herbivory on below-ground herbivores are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the performance of cabbage root fly larvae (Delia radicum) on cabbage plants (Brassica oleracea) previously exposed to above ground herbivores belonging to two feeding guilds: leaf chewing diamondback moth caterpillars (Plutella xylostella) or phloem-feeding cabbage aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae). Our study focusses on root-herbivore performance and defence signalling in primary roots by quantifying phytohormones and gene expression. We show that leaf herbivory by caterpillars, but not by aphids, strongly attenuates root herbivore performance. Above-ground herbivory causes changes in primary roots in terms of gene transcripts and metabolites involved in plant defence. Feeding by below-ground herbivores strongly induces the jasmonate pathway in primary roots. Caterpillars feeding on leaves cause a slight induction of the primary root jasmonate pathway and interact with plant defence signalling in response to root herbivores. In conclusion, feeding by a leaf chewer and a phloem feeder differentially affects root-herbivore performance, root-herbivore-induced phytohormonal signalling, and secondary metabolites.
Project description:Plants have evolved numerous herbivore defences that are resistance- or tolerance-based. Resistance involves physical and chemical traits that deter and/or harm herbivores whereas tolerance minimizes fitness costs of herbivory, often via compensatory growth. The Poaceae frequently accumulate large amounts of silicon (Si), which can be used for herbivore resistance, including biomechanical and (indirectly) biochemical defences. To date, it is unclear whether Si improves tolerance of herbivory. Here we report how Si enabled a cereal (Triticum aestivum) to tolerate damage inflicted by above- and belowground herbivores. Leaf herbivory increased Si concentrations in the leaves by greater than 50% relative to herbivore-free plants, indicating it was an inducible defensive response. In plants without Si supplementation, leaf herbivory reduced shoot biomass by 52% and root herbivory reduced root biomass by 68%. Si supplementation, however, facilitated compensatory growth such that shoot losses were more than compensated for (+14% greater than herbivore-free plants) and root losses were minimized to -16%. Si supplementation did not improve plant resistance since Si did not enhance biomechanical resistance (i.e. force of fracture) or reduce leaf consumption and herbivore relative growth rates. We propose that Si-based defence operates in wheat via tolerance either in addition or as an alternative to resistance-based defence.
Project description:Background and Aims:Plants usually compete with neighbouring plants for resources such as light as well as defend themselves against herbivorous insects. This requires investment of limiting resources, resulting in optimal resource distribution patterns and trade-offs between growth- and defence-related traits. A plant's competitive success is determined by the spatial distribution of its resources in the canopy. The spatial distribution of herbivory in the canopy in turn differs between herbivore species as the level of herbivore specialization determines their response to the distribution of resources and defences in the canopy. Here, we investigated to what extent competition for light affects plant susceptibility to herbivores with different feeding preferences. Methods:To quantify interactions between herbivory and competition, we developed and evaluated a 3-D spatially explicit functional-structural plant model for Brassica nigra that mechanistically simulates competition in a dynamic light environment, and also explicitly models leaf area removal by herbivores with different feeding preferences. With this novel approach, we can quantitatively explore the extent to which herbivore feeding location and light competition interact in their effect on plant performance. Key Results:Our results indicate that there is indeed a strong interaction between levels of plant-plant competition and herbivore feeding preference. When plants did not compete, herbivory had relatively small effects irrespective of feeding preference. Conversely, when plants competed, herbivores with a preference for young leaves had a strong negative effect on the competitiveness and subsequent performance of the plant, whereas herbivores with a preference for old leaves did not. Conclusions:Our study predicts how plant susceptibility to herbivory depends on the composition of the herbivore community and the level of plant competition, and highlights the importance of considering the full range of dynamics in plant-plant-herbivore interactions.
Project description:Plants are able to cope with herbivores by inducing defensive traits or growth responses that allow them to reduce or avoid the impact of herbivores. Since above- and belowground herbivores differ substantially in life-history traits, for example feeding types, and their spatial distribution, it is likely that they induce different responses in plants. Moreover, strong interactive effects on defense and plant growth are expected when above- and belowground herbivores are jointly present. The strengths and directions of these responses have been scarcely addressed in the literature. Using Taraxacum officinale, the root-feeding nematode Meloidogyne hapla and the locust Schistocerca gregaria as a model species, we examined to what degree above- and belowground herbivory affect (1) plant growth responses, (2) the induction of plant defensive traits, that is, leaf trichomes, and (3) changes in dispersal-related seed traits and seed germination. We compared the performance of plants originating from different populations to address whether plant responses are conserved across putative different genotypes. Overall, aboveground herbivory resulted in increased plant biomass. Root herbivory had no effect on plant growth. Plants exposed to the two herbivores showed fewer leaf trichomes than plants challenged only by one herbivore and consequently experienced greater aboveground herbivory. In addition, herbivory had effects that reached beyond the individual plant by modifying seed morphology, producing seeds with longer pappus, and germination success.
Project description:Introduced plants tend to experience less herbivory than natives, although herbivore loads vary widely. Herbivores may switch hosts onto an introduced plant for at least two reasons. They may recognize the novel plant as a potential host based on similarity of the plant's traits to the traits of one of its native hosts, a similarity that may or may not exhibit phylogenetic signal. Alternatively, herbivores may feed optimally, assessing which introduced plants provide the best nutrition irrespective of similarity to native species. Here, we created a phylogeny of 57 oak (Quercus) taxa, which were grown outside of their ranges in a common botanical garden that contained one abundant native oak (Quercus lobata). We used the phylogeny to estimate the phylogenetic conservatism of herbivory by two feeding guilds of insects (leaf chewers and leaf miners) and 11 plant traits expected to affect herbivore performance. We found high phylogenetic signal in chewing damage but not mining damage and all traits except for leaf maturation time. Introduced oaks that are more closely related to the native oak received more chewing and mining damage than distantly related oaks, and introduced oaks that had greater overall similarity in leaf traits also received higher chewing damage but not mining damage. These results demonstrate that interactions between introduced plants and their herbivores are driven independently by traits that track plant phylogeny and leaf traits that likely affect herbivore performance.
Project description:Although bacterial endosymbioses are common among phloeophagous herbivores, little is known regarding the effects of symbionts on herbivore host selection and population dynamics. We tested the hypothesis that plant selection and reproductive performance by a phloem-feeding herbivore (potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli) is mediated by infection of plants with a bacterial endosymbiont. We controlled for the effects of herbivory and endosymbiont infection by exposing potato plants (Solanum tuberosum) to psyllids infected with "Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum" or to uninfected psyllids. We used these treatments as a basis to experimentally test plant volatile emissions, herbivore settling and oviposition preferences, and herbivore population growth. Three important findings emerged: (1) plant volatile profiles differed with respect to both herbivory and herbivory plus endosymbiont infection when compared to undamaged control plants; (2) herbivores initially settled on plants exposed to endosymbiont-infected psyllids but later defected and oviposited primarily on plants exposed only to uninfected psyllids; and (3) plant infection status had little effect on herbivore reproduction, though plant flowering was associated with a 39% reduction in herbivore density on average. Our experiments support the hypothesis that plant infection with endosymbionts alters plant volatile profiles, and infected plants initially recruited herbivores but later repelled them. Also, our findings suggest that the endosymbiont may not place negative selection pressure on its host herbivore in this system, but plant flowering phenology appears correlated with psyllid population performance.
Project description:Climate warming is expected to significantly affect plant-herbivore interactions. Even though direct effects of temperature on herbivores were extensively studied, indirect effects of temperature (acting via changes in host plant quality) on herbivore performance have rarely been addressed. We conducted multiple-choice feeding experiments with generalist herbivore Schistocerca gregaria feeding on six species of genus Impatiens cultivated at three different temperatures in growth chambers and a common garden. We also studied changes in leaf morphology and chemistry. We tested effects of temperature on plant palatability and assessed whether the effects could be explained by changes in the leaf traits. The leaves of most Impatiens species experienced the highest herbivory when cultivated at the warmest temperature. Traits related to leaf morphology (specific leaf area, leaf dry matter content and leaf area), but not to leaf chemistry, partly mediated the effects of temperature on plant palatability. Herbivores preferred smaller leaves with lower specific leaf area and higher leaf dry matter content. Our study suggests that elevated temperature will lead to changes in leaf traits and increase their palatability. This might further enhance the levels of herbivory under the increased herbivore pressure, which is forecasted as a consequence of climate warming.
Project description:Plants show ontogenetic variation in growth-defence strategies to maximize reproductive output within a community context. Most work on plant ontogenetic variation in growth-defence trade-offs has focussed on interactions with antagonistic insect herbivores. Plants respond to herbivore attack with phenotypic changes. Despite the knowledge that plant responses to herbivory affect plant mutualistic interactions with pollinators required for reproduction, indirect interactions between herbivores and pollinators have not been included in the evaluation of how ontogenetic growth-defence trajectories affect plant fitness.In a common garden experiment with the annual Brassica nigra, we investigated whether exposure to various herbivore species on different plant ontogenetic stages (vegetative, bud or flowering stage) affects plant flowering traits, interactions with flower visitors and results in fitness consequences for the plant.Effects of herbivory on flowering plant traits and interactions with flower visitors depended on plant ontogeny. Plant exposure in the vegetative stage to the caterpillar Pieris brassicae and aphid Brevicoryne brassicae led to reduced flowering time and flower production, and resulted in reduced pollinator attraction, pollen beetle colonization, total seed production and seed weight. When plants had buds, infestation by most herbivore species tested reduced flower production and pollen beetle colonization. Pollinator attraction was either increased or reduced. Plants infested in the flowering stage with P. brassicae or Lipaphis erysimi flowered longer, while infestation by any of the herbivore species tested increased the number of flower visits by pollinators.Our results show that the outcome of herbivore-flower visitor interactions in B. nigra is specific for the combination of herbivore species and plant ontogenetic stage. Consequences of herbivory for flowering traits and reproductive output were strongest when plants were attacked early in life. Such differences in selection pressures imposed by herbivores to specific plant ontogenetic stages may drive the evolution of distinct ontogenetic trajectories in growth-defence-reproduction strategies and include indirect interactions between herbivores and flower visitors. Synthesis. Plant ontogeny can define the direct and indirect consequences of herbivory. Our study shows that the ontogenetic stage of plant individuals determined the effects of herbivory on plant flowering traits, interactions with flower visitors and plant fitness.
Project description:High-latitude plants are often more palatable to herbivores than low-latitude conspecifics. Does increased plant palatability lead to better herbivore performance? Our field and laboratory work investigated (A) whether high-latitude plants have traits indicating that they should be higher-quality foods for herbivores; (B) whether geographic differences in plant quality are more important than local adaptation of herbivores. We studied 3 plant species and 6 invertebrate herbivores in U.S. Atlantic Coast. Past studies had shown high-latitude individuals of these plants are more palatable than low-latitude conspecifics. We documented plant traits and herbivore performance (body size) in the field across latitude. We collected individuals from different latitudes for factorial (plant region x herbivore region) laboratory experiments, examining how herbivore performance was affected by plant region, herbivore region, and their interaction (i.e., local adaptation). Field surveys suggested high-latitude plants were likely of higher quality to herbivores. Leaf nitrogen content in all plant species increased toward high latitudes, consistent with lower leaf C/N and higher leaf chlorophyll content at high latitudes. Furthermore, leaf toughness decreased toward higher latitudes in 1 species. The body size of 4 herbivore species increased with latitude, consistent with high-latitude leaves being of higher quality, while 2 grasshopper species showed the opposite pattern, likely due to life-history constraints. In the laboratory, high-latitude plants supported better performance in 4 herbivore species (marginal in the 5th). The geographic region where herbivores were collected affected herbivore performance in all 6 species; however, the pattern was mixed, indicating a lack of local adaptation by herbivores to plants from their own geographic region. Our results suggest that more-palatable plants at high latitudes support better herbivore growth. Given that geographic origin of either plants or herbivores can affect herbivore performance, the nature of plant-herbivore interactions is likely to change if climate change "reshuffles" plant and herbivore populations across latitude.
Project description:Insect herbivores have dramatic effects on the chemical composition of plants. Many of these induced metabolites contribute to the quality (e.g., flavor, human health benefits) of specialty crops such as the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Induced chemical changes are often studied by comparing plants damaged and undamaged by herbivores. However, when herbivory is quantitative, the relationship between herbivore pressure and induction can be linearly or non-linearly density dependent or density independent, and induction may only occur after some threshold of herbivory. The shape of this relationship can vary among metabolites within plants. The tea green leafhopper (Empoasca onukii) can be a widespread pest on tea, but some tea farmers take advantage of leafhopper-induced metabolites in order to produce high-quality "bug-bitten" teas such as Eastern Beauty oolong. To understand the effects of increasing leafhopper density on tea metabolites important for quality, we conducted a manipulative experiment exposing tea plants to feeding by a range of E. onukii densities. After E. onukii feeding, we measured volatile and non-volatile metabolites, and quantified percent damaged leaf area from scanned leaf images. E. onukii density had a highly significant effect on volatile production, while the effect of leaf damage was only marginally significant. The volatiles most responsive to leafhopper density were mainly terpenes that increased in concentration monotonically with density, while the volatiles most responsive to leaf damage were primarily fatty acid derivatives and volatile phenylpropanoids/benzenoids. In contrast, damage (percent leaf area damaged), but not leafhopper density, significantly reduced total polyphenols, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and theobromine concentrations in a dose-dependent manner. The shape of induced responses varied among metabolites with some changing linearly with herbivore pressure and some responding only after a threshold in herbivore pressure with a threshold around 0.6 insects/leaf being common. This study illustrates the importance of measuring a diversity of metabolites over a range of herbivory to fully understand the effects of herbivores on induced metabolites. Our study also shows that any increases in leafhopper density associated with climate warming, could have dramatic effects on secondary metabolites and tea quality.