Evolutionary theory of plant defences against herbivores predicts a trade-off between direct (anti-herbivore traits) and indirect defences (attraction of carnivores) when carnivore fitness is reduced. Such a trade-off is expected in plant species that kill herbivore eggs by exhibiting a hypersensitive response (HR)-like necrosis, which should then negatively affect carnivores. We used the black mustard (Brassica nigra) to investigate how this potentially lethal direct trait affects preferences and/or performances of specialist cabbage white butterflies (Pieris spp.), and their natural enemies, tiny egg parasitoid wasps (Trichogramma spp.). Both within and between black mustard populations, we observed variation in the expression of Pieris egg-induced HR. Butterfly eggs on plants with HR-like necrosis suffered lower hatching rates and higher parasitism than eggs that did not induce the trait. In addition, Trichogramma wasps were attracted to volatiles of egg-induced plants that also expressed HR, and this attraction depended on the Trichogramma strain used. Consequently, HR did not have a negative effect on egg parasitoid survival. We conclude that even within a system where plants deploy lethal direct defences, such defences may still act with indirect defences in a synergistic manner to reduce herbivore pressure.
|Date made available||10 Jun 2014|
|Geographical coverage||River Rhine in Wageningen|