Staley, Joanna T., Stafford, David B., Green, Emma R., Leather, Simon R., Rossiter, John T., Poppy, Guy M. and Wright, Denis J.
Plant nutrient supply determines competition between phytophagous insects
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278, (1706), . (doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1593). (PMID:20843847).
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Indirect competition is often mediated by plant responses to herbivore feeding damage and is common among phytophagous insect species. Plant-mediated responses may be altered by abiotic conditions such as nutrient supply, which can affect plant growth, morphology, and the concentration of primary and secondary metabolites. Nutrient supply can be manipulated by the type and amount of fertilizer applied to a plant. Brassica oleracea plants were grown in several types of fertilizer, including those commonly used in sustainable and conventional agricultural systems. The occurrence of indirect competition between two phytophagous species from different feeding guilds (a phloem-feeder and leaf-chewer) was assessed. The leaf-chewer reduced aphid populations on plants growing in most fertilizer treatments, but not on those in the ammonium nitrate fertilizer treatment, which caused the highest concentration of foliar nitrogen. The potential consequences of our findings are discussed for phytophagous species in conventional and sustainable agricultural systems.
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