The Many Dimensions of Diet Breadth: Phytochemical, Genetic, Behavioral, and Physiological Perspectives on the Interaction between a Native Herbivore and an Exotic Host

PloS One
Joshua G HarrisonMatthew L Forister

Abstract

From the perspective of an herbivorous insect, conspecific host plants are not identical, and intraspecific variation in host nutritional quality or defensive capacity might mediate spatially variable outcomes in plant-insect interactions. Here we explore this possibility in the context of an ongoing host breadth expansion of a native butterfly (the Melissa blue, Lycaeides melissa) onto an exotic host plant (alfalfa, Medicago sativa). We examine variation among seven alfalfa populations that differed in terms of colonization by L. melissa; specifically, we examined variation in phytochemistry, foliar protein, and plant population genetic structure, as well as responses of caterpillars and adult butterflies to foliage from the same populations. Regional patterns of alfalfa colonization by L. melissa were well predicted by phytochemical variation, and colonized patches of alfalfa showed a similar level of inter-individual phytochemical diversity. However, phytochemical variation was a poor predictor of larval performance, despite the fact that survival and weight gain differed dramatically among caterpillars reared on plants from different alfalfa populations. Moreover, we observed a mismatch between alfalfa supporting the best l...Continue Reading

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Citations

Apr 5, 2018·Molecular Ecology·Samridhi ChaturvediZachariah Gompert
Jun 13, 2018·Molecular Ecology·Catherine R Linnen
Jul 19, 2018·Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution·Mariana P BragaWalter A Boeger
Jun 4, 2020·Ecology and Evolution·Matthew L ForisterZach Gompert
Nov 29, 2020·Science Advances·Matthew L ForisterZachariah Gompert

Methods Mentioned

BETA
PCR
PCA

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