Choice tests were conducted to determine relative degree of specialization of feeding behavior of 11 Mexican diabroticite species in the genera Acalymma and Diabrotica (Chrysomelidae: Luperini). Adult beetles were offered a choice between cotyledons of a non-bitter (not containing cucurbitacin) cucurbit (C. pepo L. var. Crookneck), corn (Zea mays L.), and beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). In a second assay a bitter (containing cucurbitacin) cucurbit (C. pepo L. var. Ambassador) was added to the array of plants offered. Neonates of two species of Acalymma and one species of Diabrotica were offered a choice between roots of a non-bitter and a bitter cucurbit, and between a bitter cucurbit and corn. Adult insects showed distinct preferences in the first assay. All Acalymma spp. tested accepted only the non-bitter cucurbit as host, whereas Diabrotica spp. preferred either the cucurbit or the noncucurbit hosts. When the bitter cucurbit was offered together with the other three hosts, all species changed their host choice and significantly preferred the bitter cucurbit. Neonates of all three-species tested significantly preferred the bitter cucurbit roots over the non-bitter roots, and the corn roots over the bitter cucurbit. The observation that all Mexican diabroticite species tested left suitable hosts when bitter cucurbits were offered in a choice situation supported the hypothesis that the association between diabroticites and Cucurbitaceae is mediated by plant chemical compounds. For both, the Acalymma spp., which were found to be cucurbit specialists, as well as for the polyphagous Diabrotica spp., cucurbitacin B acted as a strong feeding arrestant which implies that the chemical mediation of this interaction might be an evolutionary conservative trait within the tribe.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science