Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide impairs the performance of root-feeding vine weevils by modifying root growth and secondary metabolites
Johnson, S. N., Barton, A. T., Clark, K. E., Gregory, P. J., McMenemy, L. S. and Hancock, R. D. (2011) Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide impairs the performance of root-feeding vine weevils by modifying root growth and secondary metabolites. Global Change Biology, 17 (2). pp. 688-695. ISSN 1365-2486
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02264.x
Predicting how insect crop pests will respond to global climate change is an important part of increasing crop production for future food security, and will increasingly rely on empirically based evidence. The effects of atmospheric composition, especially elevated carbon dioxide (eCO(2)), on insect herbivores have been well studied, but this research has focussed almost exclusively on aboveground insects. However, responses of root-feeding insects to eCO(2) are unlikely to mirror these trends because of fundamental differences between aboveground and belowground habitats. Moreover, changes in secondary metabolites and defensive responses to insect attack under eCO(2) conditions are largely unexplored for root herbivore interactions. This study investigated how eCO(2) (700 mu mol mol-1) affected a root-feeding herbivore via changes to plant growth and concentrations of carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and phenolics. This study used the root-feeding vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus and the perennial crop, Ribes nigrum. Weevil populations decreased by 33% and body mass decreased by 23% (from 7.2 to 5.4 mg) in eCO(2). Root biomass decreased by 16% in eCO(2), which was strongly correlated with weevil performance. While root N concentrations fell by 8%, there were no significant effects of eCO(2) on root C and N concentrations. Weevils caused a sink in plants, resulting in 8-12% decreases in leaf C concentration following herbivory. There was an interactive effect of CO(2) and root herbivory on root phenolic concentrations, whereby weevils induced an increase at ambient CO(2), suggestive of defensive response, but caused a decrease under eCO(2). Contrary to predictions, there was a positive relationship between root phenolics and weevil performance. We conclude that impaired root-growth underpinned the negative effects of eCO(2) on vine weevils and speculate that the plant's failure to mount a defensive response at eCO(2) may have intensified these negative effects.