Varying responses of insect herbivores to altered plant chemistry under organic and conventional treatments

Staley, Joanna T.; Stewart-Jones, Alex; Pope, Tom W.; Wright, Denis J.; Leather, Simon R.; Hadley, Paul; Rossiter, John T.; van Emden, Helmut F.; Poppy, Guy M.. 2009 Varying responses of insect herbivores to altered plant chemistry under organic and conventional treatments. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 277 (1682). 779-786.

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The hypothesis that plants supplied with organic fertilizers are better defended against insect herbivores than those supplied with synthetic fertilizers was tested over two field seasons. Organic and synthetic fertilizer treatments at two nitrogen concentrations were supplied to Brassica plants, and their effects on the abundance of herbivore species and plant chemistry were assessed. The organic treatments also differed in fertilizer type: a green manure was used for the low-nitrogen treatment, while the high-nitrogen treatment contained green and animal manures. Two aphid species showed different responses to fertilizers: the Brassica specialist Brevicoryne brassicae was more abundant on organically fertilized plants, while the generalist Myzus persicae had higher populations on synthetically fertilized plants. The diamondback moth Plutella xylostella (a crucifer specialist) was more abundant on synthetically fertilized plants and preferred to oviposit on these plants. Glucosinolate concentrations were up to three times greater on plants grown in the organic treatments, while foliar nitrogen was maximized on plants under the higher of the synthetic fertilizer treatments. The varying response of herbivore species to these strong differences in plant chemistry demonstrates that hypotheses on defence in organically grown crops have over-simplified the response of phytophagous insects.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pywell
Additional Keywords: sinigrin, agro-ecology, sustainable agriculture, glucobrassicin, nitrogen, Brassica oleracea var. capitata
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 09 Jun 2020 13:27 +0 (UTC)

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