Plant ontogeny determines strength and associated plant fitness consequences of plant-mediated interactions between herbivores and flower visitors.
ABSTRACT: 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:Plant phenotypic plasticity in response to antagonists can affect other community members such as mutualists, conferring potential ecological costs associated with inducible plant defence. For flowering plants, induction of defences to deal with herbivores can lead to disruption of plant-pollinator interactions. Current knowledge on the full extent of herbivore-induced changes in flower traits is limited, and we know little about specificity of induction of flower traits and specificity of effect on flower visitors. We exposed flowering Brassica nigra plants to six insect herbivore species and recorded changes in flower traits (flower abundance, morphology, colour, volatile emission, nectar quantity, and pollen quantity and size) and the behaviour of two pollinating insects. Our results show that herbivory can affect multiple flower traits and pollinator behaviour. Most plastic floral traits were flower morphology, colour, the composition of the volatile blend, and nectar production. Herbivore-induced changes in flower traits resulted in positive, negative, or neutral effects on pollinator behaviour. Effects on flower traits and pollinator behaviour were herbivore species-specific. Flowers show extensive plasticity in response to antagonist herbivores, with contrasting effects on mutualist pollinators. Antagonists can potentially act as agents of selection on flower traits and plant reproduction via plant-mediated interactions with mutualists.
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:The majority of studies exploring interactions between above- and below-ground biota have been focused on the effects of root-associated organisms on foliar herbivorous insects. This study examined the effects of foliar herbivory by Pieris brassicae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) on the performance of the root herbivore Delia radicum L. (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) and its parasitoid Trybliographa rapae (Westwood) (Hymenoptera: Figitidae), mediated through a shared host plant Brassica nigra L. (Brassicaceae). In the presence of foliar herbivory, the survival of D. radicum and T. rapae decreased significantly by more than 50%. In addition, newly emerged adults of both root herbivores and parasitoids were significantly smaller on plants that had been exposed to foliar herbivory than on control plants. To determine what factor(s) may have accounted for the observed results, we examined the effects of foliar herbivory on root quantity and quality. No significant differences in root biomass were found between plants with and without shoot herbivore damage. Moreover, concentrations of nitrogen in root tissues were also unaffected by shoot damage by P. brassicae larvae. However, higher levels of indole glucosinolates were measured in roots of plants exposed to foliar herbivory, suggesting that the development of the root herbivore and its parasitoid may be, at least partly, negatively affected by increased levels of these allelochemicals in root tissues. Our results show that foliar herbivores can affect the development not only of root-feeding insects but also their natural enemies. We argue that such indirect interactions between above- and below-ground biota may play an important role in the structuring and functioning of communities.
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:Herbivore attack can alter plant interactions with pollinators, ranging from reduced to enhanced pollinator visitation. The direction and strength of effects of herbivory on pollinator visitation could be contingent on the type of plant tissue or organ attacked by herbivores, but this has seldom been tested experimentally. We investigated the effect of variation in feeding site of herbivorous insects on the visitation by insect pollinators on flowering Brassica nigra plants. We placed herbivores on either leaves or flowers, and recorded the responses of two pollinator species when visiting flowers. Our results show that variation in herbivore feeding site has profound impact on the outcome of herbivore-pollinator interactions. Herbivores feeding on flowers had consistent positive effects on pollinator visitation, whereas herbivores feeding on leaves did not. Herbivores themselves preferred to feed on flowers, and mostly performed best on flowers. We conclude that herbivore feeding site choice can profoundly affect herbivore-pollinator interactions and feeding site thereby makes for an important herbivore trait that can determine the linkage between antagonistic and mutualistic networks.
Project description:Studies on aboveground (AG) plant organs have shown that volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions differ between simultaneous attack by herbivores and single herbivore attack. There is growing evidence that interactive effects of simultaneous herbivory also occur across the root-shoot interface. In our study, Brassica rapa roots were infested with root fly larvae (Delia radicum) and the shoots infested with Pieris brassicae, either singly or simultaneously, to study these root-shoot interactions. As an analytical platform, we used Proton Transfer Reaction Mass Spectrometry (PTR-MS) to investigate VOCs over a 3 day time period. Our set-up allowed us to monitor root and shoot emissions concurrently on the same plant. Focus was placed on the sulfur-containing compounds; methanethiol, dimethylsulfide (DMS), and dimethyldisulfide (DMDS), because these compounds previously have been shown to be biologically active in the interactions of Brassica plants, herbivores, parasitoids, and predators, yet have received relatively little attention. The shoots of plants simultaneously infested with AG and belowground (BG) herbivores emitted higher levels of sulfur-containing compounds than plants with a single herbivore species present. In contrast, the emission of sulfur VOCs from the plant roots increased as a consequence of root herbivory, independent of the presence of an AG herbivore. The onset of root emissions was more rapid after damage than the onset of shoot emissions. The shoots of double infested plants also emitted higher levels of methanol. Thus, interactive effects of root and shoot herbivores exhibit more strongly in the VOC emissions from the shoots than from the roots, implying the involvement of specific signaling interactions.
Project description:Biotic stress can induce plastic changes in fitness-relevant plant traits. Recently, it has been shown that such changes can be transmitted to subsequent generations. However, the occurrence and extent of transmission across different types of traits is still unexplored. Here, we assessed the emergence and transmission of herbivory-induced changes in Brassica rapa and their impact on interactions with insects. We analysed changes in morphology and reproductive traits as well as in flower and leaf volatile emission during two generations with leaf herbivory by Mamestra brassicae and Pieris brassicae and two subsequent generations without herbivory. Herbivory induced changes in all trait types, increasing attractiveness of the plants to the parasitoid wasp Cotesia glomerata and decreasing visitation by the pollinator Bombus terrestris, a potential trade-off. While changes in floral and leaf volatiles disappeared in the first generation after herbivory, some changes in morphology and reproductive traits were still measurable two generations after herbivory. However, neither parasitoids nor pollinators further discriminated between groups with different past treatments. Our results suggest that transmission of herbivore-induced changes occurs preferentially in resource-limited traits connected to plant growth and reproduction. The lack of alterations in plant-insect interactions was likely due to the transient nature of volatile changes.
Project description:In perennial plants, interactions with other community members during the vegetative growth phase may influence community assembly during subsequent reproductive years and may influence plant fitness. It is well-known that plant responses to herbivory affect community assembly within a growing season, but whether plant-herbivore interactions result in legacy effects on community assembly across seasons has received little attention. Moreover, whether plant-herbivore interactions during the vegetative growing season are important in predicting plant fitness directly or indirectly through legacy effects is poorly understood.Here, we tested whether plant-arthropod interactions in the vegetative growing season of perennial wild cabbage plants, Brassica oleracea, result in legacy effects in arthropod community assembly in the subsequent reproductive season and whether legacy effects have plant fitness consequences. We monitored the arthropod community on plants that had been induced with either aphids, caterpillars or no herbivores in a full-factorial design across 2 years. We quantified the plant traits 'height', 'number of leaves' and 'number of flowers' to understand mechanisms that may mediate legacy effects. We measured seed production in the second year to evaluate plant fitness consequences of legacy effects.Although we did not find community responses to the herbivory treatments, our data show that community composition in the first year leaves a legacy on community composition in a second year: predator community composition co-varied across years. Structural equation modelling analyses indicated that herbivore communities in the vegetative year correlated with plant performance traits that may have caused a legacy effect on especially predator community assembly in the subsequent reproductive year. Interestingly, the legacy of the herbivore community in the vegetative year predicted plant fitness better than the herbivore community that directly interacted with plants in the reproductive year. Synthesis. Thus, legacy effects of plant-herbivore interactions affect community assembly on perennial plants across growth seasons and these processes may affect plant reproductive success. We argue that plant-herbivore interactions in the vegetative phase as well as in the cross-seasonal legacy effects caused by plant responses to arthropod herbivory may be important in perennial plant trait evolution such as ontogenetic variation in growth and defence strategies.
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:Beneficial soil microbes can promote plant growth and induce systemic resistance (ISR) in aboveground tissues against pathogens and herbivorous insects. Despite the increasing interest in microbial-ISR against herbivores, the underlying molecular and chemical mechanisms of this phenomenon remain elusive. Using Arabidopsis thaliana and the rhizobacterium Pseudomonas simiae WCS417r (formerly known as P. fluorescens WCS417r), we here evaluate the role of the JA-regulated MYC2-branch and the JA/ET-regulated ORA59-branch in modulating rhizobacteria-ISR to Mamestra brassicae by combining gene transcriptional, phytochemical, and herbivore performance assays. Our data show a consistent negative effect of rhizobacteria-mediated ISR on the performance of M. brassicae. Functional JA- and ET-signaling pathways are required for this effect, as shown by investigating the knock-out mutants dde2-2 and ein2-1. Additionally, whereas herbivory mainly induces the MYC2-branch, rhizobacterial colonization alone or in combination with herbivore infestation induces the ORA59-branch of the JA signaling pathway. Rhizobacterial colonization enhances the synthesis of camalexin and aliphatic glucosinolates (GLS) compared to the control, while it suppresses the herbivore-induced levels of indole GLS. These changes are associated with modulation of the JA-/ET-signaling pathways. Our data show that the colonization of plant roots by rhizobacteria modulates plant-insect interactions by prioritizing the JA/ET-regulated ORA59-branch over the JA-regulated MYC2-branch. This study elucidates how microbial plant symbionts can modulate the plant immune system to mount an effective defense response against herbivorous plant attackers.