JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effects of root herbivory by nematodes on the performance and preference of a leaf-infesting generalist aphid depend on nitrate fertilization

Magdalene Kutyniok, Marcus Persicke, Caroline Müller
Journal of Chemical Ecology 2014, 40 (2): 118-27
24500735
The performance and behavior of herbivores is strongly affected by the quality of their host plants, which is determined by various environmental conditions. We investigated the performance and preference of the polyphagous shoot-infesting aphid Myzus persicae on the host-plant Arabidopsis thaliana in a two-factorial design in which nitrate fertilization was varied by 33 %, and the root-infesting cyst-nematode Heterodera schachtii was present or absent. Aphid performance was influenced by these abiotic and biotic factors in an interactive way. Nematode presence decreased aphid performance when nitrate levels were low, whereas nematode infestation did not influence aphid performance under higher nitrate fertilization. Aphids followed the "mother knows best" principle when given a choice, settling preferentially on those plants on which they performed best. Hence, they preferred nematode-free over nematode-infested plants in the low fertilization treatment but host choice was not affected by nematodes under higher nitrate fertilization. The amino acid composition of the phloem exudates was significantly influenced by fertilization but also by the interaction of the two treatments. Various glucosinolates in the leaves, which provide an estimate of phloem glucosinolates, were not affected by the individual treatments but by the combination of fertilization and herbivory. These changes in primary and secondary metabolites may be decisive for the herbivore responses. Our data demonstrate that abiotic and biotic factors can interactively affect herbivores, adding a layer of complexity to plant-mediated herbivore interactions.

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