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Responding positively to plant defences, a candidate key trait for invasion success in the New Zealand grass grub Costelytra zealandica

Authors
  • Lefort, M.-C.
  • Worner, S.P.
  • Rostas, M.
  • Vereijssen, J.
  • Boyer, S.
  • Stephane Boyer
Type
Published Article
Journal
New Zealand Journal of Ecology
Publisher
New Zealand Ecological Society
Publication Date
Jan 11, 2015
Volume
39
Issue
1
Source
MyScienceWork
License
Green

Abstract

Occasionally, exotic plant introductions lead to the emergence of an invasive insect within its native geographical range. Such emergence could be explained by a pre-adaptation of the insect to break through the defences of the new encountered host. We investigated the fitness responses of two New Zealand endemic scarabs (Costelytra brunneum and C. zealandica) when given a diet of an exotic pasture species, Trifolium repens, whose defences were artificially triggered by the phytohormone jasmonic acid. We found differential fitness responses between the two species when they were exposed to a defence-induced diet. We observed a significant weight increase in the invasive species C. zealandica when it was fed with treated roots compared with untreated controls, whereas no significant weight increase was observed in the non-invasive C. brunneum compared with the control treatments. Our study suggests that C. zealandica has a pre-existing ability to tolerate the defence chemicals of its exotic host and, more interestingly, to benefit from them, which may explain why this species has become a serious pest of pasture throughout its native geographical range.

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