Ecology Letters (2012) 15, 55-64

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Christelle A.M. Robert, Nathalie Veyrat, Gaétan Glauser, Guillaume Marti, Gwladys R. Doyen, Neil Villard, Mickaël D.P. Gaillard, Tobias G. Köllner, David Giron, Mélanie Body, Benjamin A. Babst, Richard A. Ferrieri, Ted C.J. Turlings and Matthias Erb (2012)
A specialist root herbivore exploits defensive metabolites to locate nutritious tissues
Ecology Letters 15 (1), 55-64
Abstract: The most valuable organs of plants are often particularly rich in essential elements, but also very well defended. This creates a dilemma for herbivores that need to maximise energy intake while minimising intoxication. We investigated how the specialist root herbivore Diabrotica virgifera solves this conundrum when feeding on wild and cultivated maize plants. We found that crown roots of maize seedlings were vital for plant development and, in accordance, were rich in nutritious primary metabolites and contained higher amounts of the insecticidal 2,4-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one (DIMBOA) and the phenolic compound chlorogenic acid. The generalist herbivores Diabrotica balteata and Spodoptera littoralis were deterred from feeding on crown roots, whereas the specialist D. virgifera preferred and grew best on these tissues. Using a 1,4-benzoxazin-3-one-deficient maize mutant, we found that D. virgifera is resistant to DIMBOA and other 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones and that it even hijacks these compounds to optimally forage for nutritious roots.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Ted C.J. Turlings, David Giron

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
resistance/tolerance/defence of host


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Diabrotica virgifera Maize/corn (Zea mays)