The role of plant rapidly induced responses in asymmetric interspecific interactions among insect herbivores

Moshe Inbar, Hamed Doostdar, Gary L. Leibee, Richard T. Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of induced responses of tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum, in interspecific interactions between two polyphagous herbivores, the silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii (WF), and the vegetable leafminer, Liriomyza trifolii (LM), was characterized in laboratory and field experiments. Feeding by LMs and WFs induced local and systemic production of putative defensive proteins, i.e., chitinases, peroxidases, β-1,3-glucanases, and lysozymes. The magnitude of the induction for each defensive protein varied between species. Unlike WFs, LMs caused a 33% local reduction in total foliar protein content. In a whole-plant choice experiment, adult LM feeding, oviposition, and larval survival were reduced by 47.7%, 30.7%, and 26.5%, respectively, for the WF-infested host compared with the controls. Early WF infestations also had negative systemic (plant-mediated) effects on LMs. Adult LMs preferred leaves from control plants to leaves of plants that had been previously infested with WFs; no reciprocal effect of LMs on WFs were found. Feeding by Helicoverpa zea larvae, which has been shown previously to affect LM performance, had no effect on WF survival and development. LM natural population dynamics were monitored on WF-preinfested and control plants in a field experiment. WF-infested plants were less suitable for LM development with an overall 41% reduction in LM population density. These results demonstrate asymmetric direct and plant-mediated interspecific interactions between generalist herbivores feeding simultaneously on the same host. Possible mechanisms by which WFs overcome plant defenses are suggested. This ability may also contribute to WF success that makes them a major pest worldwide. The study supports the idea that over an evolutionary time scale, herbivores sharing the same host plant will automatically compete.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1961-1979
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1999


  • Herbivory
  • Induced response
  • Interspecific interactions
  • Leafminers
  • Pathogenesis related proteins
  • Plant defense
  • Tomato
  • Whiteflies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of plant rapidly induced responses in asymmetric interspecific interactions among insect herbivores'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this