Complex tritrophic interactions in response to crop domestication: predictions from the wild

Y.H. Chen, R. Gols, C.A. Stratton, K.A. Brevik, B. Benrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Crop domestication is the process of artificially selecting plants to increase their suitability to human tastes and cultivated growing conditions. There is increasing evidence that crop domestication can profoundly alter interactions among plants, herbivores, and their natural enemies. However, there are few generalizable predictions on how insect herbivores and natural enemies should respond to artificial selection of specific plant traits. We reviewed the literature to determine how different insect herbivore feeding guilds and natural enemy groups (parasitoids and predators) respond to existing variation in wild and cultivated plant populations for plant traits typically targeted by domestication. Our goal was to look for broad patterns in tritrophic interactions to generate support for a range of potential outcomes from human-mediated selection. Overall, we found that herbivores benefit from directional selection on traits that have been targeted by domestication, but the effects on natural enemies were less studied and less consistent. In general, herbivores appear to mirror human preferences for higher nutritional content and larger plant structures. In contrast, the general effect of lowered plant secondary metabolites did not always influence herbivores consistently. Given that crop domestication appears to be a transformative process that fundamentally alters insect–plant interactions, we believe that a more detailed understanding of the community-wide effects of crop domestication is needed to simultaneously stimulate both biological control and plant breeding efforts to enhance sustainable pest control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-59
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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