Choosy mothers pick challenging plants: maternal preference and larval performance of a specialist herbivore are not linked

Monica Hufnagel, Anthony L. Schilmiller, Jared Ali, Zsofia Szendrei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

1. Maternal preference is a dynamic process and interactions between preference and performance are fundamental for understanding evolutionary ecology and host association in insect–plant interactions. In the present study, the hypothesis of preference–performance was tested by offering solanaceous specialist Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) larvae and adult females four plant congeners that ranged in suitability. 2. Larval feeding, development, oviposition, plant glycoalkaloids, and headspace volatiles in the four plant species were analysed to examine the extent of variation, which might explain performance–preference differences. 3. It was found that larval performance was mismatched with adult oviposition preferences. Adults laid more eggs on Solanum immite Dunal plants, which were poor hosts for larval development, feeding, and survival, compared to the other three Solanum species. 4. Chemical plant defenses, in general, did not correlate with performance or preference, but some plant volatiles may have played a role in resolving female choice. Glycoalkaloids such as solanine and chaconine were detected in similar amounts in preferred and non-preferred hosts, but there was significantly more limonene in the headspace of S. immite than in S. tuberosum L. 5. The present findings suggest that we must consider the risk-spreading hypothesis in cases where preference and performance are not positively correlated, particularly in specialist herbivores that can feed on a diversity of congener plants and may attempt to expand their exploits to other solanaceae species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Entomology
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Choosy mothers pick challenging plants: maternal preference and larval performance of a specialist herbivore are not linked'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this