Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 19–30 | Cite as

Different herbivore responses to two co-occurring chemotypes of the wild crucifer Barbarea vulgaris

  • Stina Christensen
  • Swantje Enge
  • Karen Rysbjerg Jensen
  • Caroline Müller
  • Lars Pødenphant Kiær
  • Niels Agerbirk
  • Christine Heimes
  • Thure P. HauserEmail author
Original Paper


According to coevolution theory, plant chemical defences are continually evolving in response to selection by herbivores. Unique to the Brassicales, a few species in the Barbarea genus produce triterpenoid saponins that are highly deterrent to some specialist insect herbivores. One species, B. vulgaris, has diverged into two chemotypes, the G- and P-type, of which the P-type seems to have lost the saponin-based insect resistance by producing different saponin structures; it also produces different glucosinolates and other potential defence traits. Here, we examined the preference and performance of a larger set of specialist and generalist herbivores on the two plant types, including three generalist mollusc (Arion vulgaris, Deroceras sp., Cepaea sp.) as well as three specialist (Phaedon cochleariae, Athalia rosae, Pieris napi oleraceae) and two generalist (Mamestra brassicae, Myzus persicae) insect herbivores. Five out of six herbivore species preferred leaves of the P-type for feeding, and most of them also survived and/or grew better on the P-type, or preferred it for oviposition. In contrast, larvae of M. brassicae showed no preference and performed equally well on the two plant types; the leaf beetle P. cochleariae preferred the G-type for oviposition, which was, however, not reflecting larval performance. Overall, the defences of the P-type against herbivores seem not to be as effective as those of the G-type, which is surprising given its large geographical distribution, overlapping with that of the G-type in Scandinavia and Finland. This suggests that additional ecological interactions determine the success of the two chemotypes.


Feeding preference Oviposition preference Defence compounds Glucosinolates Saponins 



We thank J. Alan A. Renwick for discussions, permission to use common experimental data and kindly hosting CM and NA as postdocs 1999–2000, and Peter Esbjerg for help in identification of herbivores from the field experiment. This study was supported by a grant from the Danish Council for Independent Research DFF—1335-00151 and a PhD stipend from University of Copenhagen to CH.

Supplementary material

11829_2018_9633_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (359 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 359 KB)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Copenhagen Plant Science Centre, Department of Plant and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksbergDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EcologyBielefeld UniversityBielefeldGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine EnvironmentCarl-von-Ossietzky University OldenburgOldenburgGermany

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