insect herbivory
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2022 ◽  
Vol 12 ◽  
Miika Laihonen ◽  
Kari Saikkonen ◽  
Marjo Helander ◽  
Beatriz R. Vázquez de Aldana ◽  
Iñigo Zabalgogeazcoa ◽  

Plants host taxonomically and functionally complex communities of microbes. However, ecological studies on plant–microbe interactions rarely address the role of multiple co-occurring plant-associated microbes. Here, we contend that plant-associated microbes interact with each other and can have joint consequences for higher trophic levels. In this study we recorded the occurrence of the plant seed pathogenic fungus Claviceps purpurea and aphids (Sitobion sp.) on an established field experiment with red fescue (Festuca rubra) plants symbiotic to a seed transmitted endophytic fungus Epichloë festucae (E+) or non-symbiotic (E–). Both fungi are known to produce animal-toxic alkaloids. The study was conducted in a semi-natural setting, where E+ and E– plants from different origins (Spain and Northern Finland) were planted in a randomized design in a fenced common garden at Kevo Subarctic Research Station in Northern Finland. The results reveal that 45% of E+ plants were infected with Claviceps compared to 31% of E– plants. Uninfected plants had 4.5 times more aphids than Claviceps infected plants. By contrast, aphid infestation was unaffected by Epichloë symbiosis. Claviceps alkaloid concentrations correlated with a decrease in aphid numbers, which indicates their insect deterring features. These results show that plant mutualistic fungi can increase the infection probability of a pathogenic fungus, which then becomes beneficial to the plant by controlling herbivorous insects. Our study highlights the complexity and context dependency of species–species and multi-trophic interactions, thus challenging the labeling of species as plant mutualists or pathogens.

Plants ◽  
2021 ◽  
Vol 11 (1) ◽  
pp. 53
Alina Avanesyan ◽  
William O. Lamp

Introduced grasses can aggressively expand their range and invade native habitats, including protected areas. Miscanthus sinensis is an introduced ornamental grass with 100+ cultivars of various invasive potential. Previous studies have demonstrated that the invasive potential of M. sinensis cultivars may be linked to seed viability, and some of the physiological traits, such as growth rate. Little is known, however, about whether these traits are associated with response of M. sinensis to insect herbivory, and whether plant tolerance and resistance to herbivory vary among its cultivars; which, in turn, can contribute to the invasive potential of some of M. sinensis cultivars. To address this issue, in our study we explored the response of five cultivars of M. sinensis to herbivory by Melanoplus grasshoppers. We demonstrated that plant responses varied among the cultivars during a season; all the cultivars, but “Zebrinus”, demonstrated a significant increase in plant tolerance by the end of the growing season regardless of the amount of sustained leaf damage. Different patterns in plant responses from “solid green” and “striped/spotted” varieties were recorded, with the lowest plant resistance detected for “Autumn Anthem” in the cage experiment. Our results have important applications for monitoring low-risk invaders in protected areas, as well as for biotic resistance of native communities to invasive grasses.

2021 ◽  
Xiang Zhang ◽  
Li Feng ◽  
Zhiyun Lu ◽  
Bo Wang

Abstract Insect herbivory on plant leaves is a major determinant of plant fitness, especially the growth and survival of tree seedlings in forests. Leaf size is believed to significantly affect the intensity of herbivory. Studies often assume the relationship between leaf size and herbivory to be monotonic; however, it is influenced by many factors—the magnitude and direction of whose effects are different—indicating a complex non-monotonic pattern. In this study, we investigated the herbivory of 5754 leaves of 422 seedlings belonging to 43 subtropical tree species over two seasons in southwest China. The effects of leaf size on herbivory differed among seasons; a hump-shaped pattern was detected in December, while a pattern of monotonic increase was detected in September. A variety of patterns including complex non-monotonic patterns presenting U-shaped and hump-shaped patterns, as well as patterns indicating monotonic decrease and increase existed, although most species displayed a leaf-size-independent pattern. The relationship between leaf size and insect herbivory does not follow a constant rule, but differs across species and seasons, indicating that the effects of leaf size on the foraging preferences of insect herbivores may be contingent on both external (e.g., temperature) and intrinsic (e.g., other leaf traits) factors. Therefore, a one-off survey focusing a few species may provide misleading understanding on the overall pattern of the effect of leaf size on herbivory. Similar variations may also exist in other ecological processes, which should be given due consideration in future studies on biotic interactions.

Danielle Elis Garcia Furuya ◽  
Lingfei Ma ◽  
Mayara Maezano Faita Pinheiro ◽  
Felipe David Georges Gomes ◽  
Wesley Nunes Gonçalvez ◽  

2021 ◽  
Vol 4 ◽  
Nele Meyer ◽  
Tarja Silfver ◽  
Kristiina Karhu ◽  
Kristiina Myller ◽  
Outi-Maaria Sietiö ◽  

Warming will likely stimulate Arctic primary production, but also soil C and N mineralization, and it remains uncertain whether the Arctic will become a sink or a source for CO2. Increasing insect herbivory may also dampen the positive response of plant production and soil C input to warming. We conducted an open-air warming experiment with Subarctic field layer vegetation in North Finland to explore the effects of warming (+3°C) and reduced insect herbivory (67% reduction in leaf damage using an insecticide) on soil C and N dynamics. We found that plant root growth, soil C and N concentrations, microbial biomass C, microbial activity, and soil NH4+ availability were increased by both warming and reduced herbivory when applied alone, but not when combined. Soil NO3– availability increased by warming only and in-situ soil respiration by reduced herbivory only. Our results suggest that increasing C input from vegetation under climate warming increases soil C concentration, but also stimulates soil C turnover. On the other hand, it appears that insect herbivores can significantly reduce plant growth. If their abundance increases with warming as predicted, they may curtail the positive effect of warming on soil C concentration. Moreover, our results suggest that temperature and herbivory effects on root growth and soil variables interact strongly, which probably arises from a combination of N demand increasing under lower herbivory and soil mineral N supply increasing under higher temperature. This may further complicate the effects of rising temperatures on Subarctic soil C dynamics.

2021 ◽  
Sandra R Schachat ◽  
Jonathan L. Payne ◽  
C. Kevin Boyce

Studies of insect herbivory on fossilized leaves tend to focus on a few, relatively simple metrics that are agnostic to the distribution of insect damage types among host plants. More complex metrics that link particular damage types to particular host plants have the potential to address additional ecological questions, but such metrics can be biased by sampling incompleteness due to the difficulty of distinguishing the true absence of a particular interaction from the failure to detect it---a challenge that has been raised in the ecological literature. We evaluate a range of methods for characterizing the relationships between damage types and host plants by performing resampling and subsampling exercises on a variety of datasets. We found that the components of beta diversity provide a more valid, reliable, and interpretable method for comparing component communities than do bipartite network metrics. We found the rarefaction of interactions to be a valid, reliable, and interpretable method for comparing compound communities. Both of these methods avoid the potential pitfalls of multiple comparisons. Lastly, we found that the host specificity of individual damage types is challenging to assess. Whereas some previously used methods are sufficiently biased by sampling incompleteness to be inappropriate for fossil herbivory data, alternatives exist that are perfectly suitable for fossil datasets with sufficient sample coverage.

2021 ◽  
Vol 8 (1) ◽  
Xinliang Shao ◽  
Qin Zhang ◽  
Xitian Yang

Abstract Background Insect herbivory has profound impacts on ecosystem processes and services. Although many efforts have been made to recognize the main drivers of insect herbivory at different scales, the results are inconsistent. One likely reason is that studies have insufficiently captured the spatially heterogeneous factors such as soil type and forest stratum within the stand that may significantly affect insect herbivory. In particular, there is a lack of studies that address the detailed spatial patterns of insect herbivory which are influenced by these factors. Methods We measured the detailed spatial patterns of insect herbivory on cork oak (Quercus variabilis Bl.) in response to soil type (gravel soil and loam) and forest stratum (the upper, lower, and sapling stratum), and correlated these patterns with a set of influencing factors (litter coverage, coverage of shrubs and herbs, soil nutrients, soil moisture, and leaf traits) in a forest landscape. Results Generally, insect herbivory was spatially heterogeneous within stands. Herbivory was significantly lower in gravel soil areas than in loam soil areas and the highest herbivory occurred in the lower stratum. However, there were also 41 individual plots in which the highest herbivory occurred in the upper stratum and 29 plots in which the highest herbivory occurred in the sapling stratum. There were significant differences in soil nutrient and water status between soil types, but no significant differences in leaf traits. The effects of forest stratum on leaf traits were also inconsistent with those on insect herbivory. Conclusions Leaf traits may not be the main factors influencing insect herbivory in the field. Soil type may have major effects on herbivory patterns by influencing litter coverage while higher coverage of shrubs and herbs may reduce herbivory in the sapling stratum. These findings may advance our understanding of tree-herbivore interactions in real-world situations and have important implications for the sustainable management of forest ecosystems.

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