Plant glucosinolate content increases susceptibility to diamondback moth (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) regardless of its diet
Glucosinolates are plant defense compounds used in host-plant recognition by insects specialized on Brassicaceae, such as the diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella L. (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae). We tested whether there were differences in oviposition and larval survival among three strains of P. xylostella after more than 100 generations continuously reared on cabbage leaves, pea leaves, and wheat germ-casein artificial diet. Pea leaves and wheat germ-casein diet contain no glucosinolates. Tests were conducted with a total of 30 different plant species, and their glucosinolate contents were determined. Two-choice oviposition tests (comparing each plant species to Arabidopsis thaliana L.) and no-choice oviposition tests showed that, regardless of diet, total glucosinolate content and chemical complexity index for glucosinolates were positively correlated with oviposition preference, total oviposition, and larval survival in P. xylostella across the wide range of plants tested. Our research shows that long-term feeding on glucosinolate-free diet hardly affects oviposition preference and larval survival in P. xylostella. Our study also suggests that, even when comparing different plant species, glucosinolate content is likely to be associated with host-plant preference and host-plant suitability in P. xylostella. This indicates that crop varieties with high glucosinolate content are likely to be more susceptible to damage by P. xylostella than crop varieties with lower glucosinolate content. Additional implications of these findings for management of this important pest are discussed. This is the first time that a study includes oviposition preference, total oviposition, larval survival, and glucosinolate content across such a wide range of plant species.
KeywordsBrassicaceae Brassicales Glucosinolates Host-plant preference Oviposition Plutella xylostella
We thank Dr. Michael Reichelt for help with glucosinolate analysis and comments on the manuscript; Jutta Steffen and Christin Heinrich for insect rearing and/or technical assistance during the experiments; Laura Barrios for help with statistical analysis; Andreas Weber and Birgit Hohmann for help in cultivating plants; Dr. Bernd Schneider for NMR analysis to confirm the identity of several glucosinolates; Drs. Bernhard Löhr and Anthony M. Shelton for providing P. xylostella strains; and Drs. Niels Agerbirk and Tamara Krügel for providing seeds of B. vulgaris and other plants. This research was supported by the Max Planck Society.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not describe any studies that involve human participants. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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