Impact of foliar herbivory on the development of a root-feeding insect and its parasitoid

R. Soler, T.M. Bezemer, A.M. Cortesero, W.H. van der Putten, L.E.M. Vet, J.A. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


The majority of studies exploring interactions between above- and below-ground biota have been focused on the effects of root-associated organisms on foliar herbivorous insects. This study examined the effects of foliar herbivory by Pieris brassicae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) on the performance of the root herbivore Delia radicum L. (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) and its parasitoid Trybliographa rapae (Westwood) (Hymenoptera: Figitidae), mediated through a shared host plant Brassica nigra L. (Brassicaceae). In the presence of foliar herbivory, the survival of D. radicum and T. rapae decreased significantly by more than 50%. In addition, newly emerged adults of both root herbivores and parasitoids were significantly smaller on plants that had been exposed to foliar herbivory than on control plants. To determine what factor(s) may have accounted for the observed results, we examined the effects of foliar herbivory on root quantity and quality. No significant differences in root biomass were found between plants with and without shoot herbivore damage. Moreover, concentrations of nitrogen in root tissues were also unaffected by shoot damage by P. brassicae larvae. However, higher levels of indole glucosinolates were measured in roots of plants exposed to foliar herbivory, suggesting that the development of the root herbivore and its parasitoid may be, at least partly, negatively affected by increased levels of these allelochemicals in root tissues. Our results show that foliar herbivores can affect the development not only of root-feeding insects but also their natural enemies. We argue that such indirect interactions between above- and below-ground biota may play an important role in the structuring and functioning of communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-264
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • plant-mediated interactions
  • below-ground communities
  • soil food-web
  • host-plant
  • natural enemies
  • trophic levels
  • growth
  • wasps
  • performance
  • diversity


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