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Ecological specificity of arbuscular mycorrhizae: evidence from foliar- and seed-feeding insects

Gange, A. C., Brown, V. K. and Aplin, D. M. (2005) Ecological specificity of arbuscular mycorrhizae: evidence from foliar- and seed-feeding insects. Ecology, 86 (3). pp. 603-611. ISSN 0012-9658

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1890/04-0967

Abstract/Summary

Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi have a variety of effects on foliar-feeding insects, with the majority of these being positive, although reports of negative and null effects also exist. Virtually all previous experiments have used mobile insects confined in cages and have studied the effects of one, or at most two, species of mycorrhizae on one species of insect. The purpose of this study was to introduce a greater level of realism into insect-mycorrhizal experiments, by studying the responses of different insect feeding guilds to a variety of AM fungi. We conducted two experiments involving three species of relatively immobile insects (a leaf-mining and two seed-feeding flies) reared in natural conditions on a host (Leucanthemum vulgare). In a field study, natural levels of AM colonization were reduced, while in a phytometer trial, we experimentally colonized host plants with all possible combinations of three known mycorrhizal associates of L. vulgare. In general, AM fungi increased the stature (height and leaf number) and nitrogen content of plants. However, these effects changed through the season and were,dependent on the identity of the fungi in the root system. AM fungi increased host acceptance of all three insects and larval performance of the leaf miner, but these effects were also season- and AM species-dependent. We suggest that the mycorrhizal effect on the performance of the leaf miner is due to fungal-induced changes in host-plant nitrogen content, detected by the adult fly. However, variability in the effect was apparent, because not all AM species increased plant N content. Meanwhile, positive effects of mycorrhizae were found on flower number and flower size, and these appeared to result in enhanced infestation levels by the seed-feeding insects. The results show that AM fungi exhibit ecological specificity, in that different. species have different effects on host-plant growth and chemistry and the performance of foliar-feeding insects. Future studies need to conduct experiments that use ecologically realistic combinations of plants and fungi and allow insects to be reared in natural conditions.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
ID Code:8527
Uncontrolled Keywords:Glomus caledonium, Glomus fasciculatum, Glomus mosseae, herbivore, Leucanthemum vulgare, mycorrhiza, Ozirhincus leucanthemi, Phytomyza, syngenesiae, phytophagous insect, seed, Tephritis neesii, LIFE-HISTORY TRAITS, HOST-PLANT, FUNGI, COLONIZATION, GROWTH, HERBIVORE, ORIENTATION, PERFORMANCE, RESPONSES, DIPTERA

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