Phytophagy of omnivorous predator Macrolophus pygmaeus affects performance of herbivores through induced plant defences

Nina Xiaoning Zhang, Gerben J. Messelink, Juan M. Alba, R.C. Schuurink, Merijn R. Kant, Arne Janssen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Plants possess various inducible defences that result in synthesis of specialized metabolites in response to herbivory, which can interfere with the performance of herbivores of the same and other species. Much less is known of the effects of plant feeding by omnivores. We found that previous feeding of the omnivorous predator Macrolophus pygmaeus on sweet pepper plants significantly reduced reproduction of the two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae and western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis on the same plants, also on leaves that had not been exposed to the omnivore. In contrast, no effect was found on the reproduction of the green peach aphid Myzus persicae. Juvenile survival and developmental time of T. urticae and M. persicae, and larval survival of F. occidentalis were not affected by plant feeding by M. pygmaeus. Larvae of F. occidentalis feeding on leaves previously exposed to M. pygmaeus required longer to develop into adults. Defence-related plant hormones were produced locally and systemically after exposure to M. pygmaeus. The concentrations of 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid and jasmonic acid–isoleucine in the attacked leaves were significantly higher than in the corresponding leaves on the uninfested plants, and jasmonic acid concentrations showed the same trend, suggesting that jasmonic-acid-related defence pathways were activated. In contrast, similar concentrations of salicylic acid were found in the attacked leaves of M. pygmaeus-infested plants and uninfested plants. Our results show that plant feeding by omnivorous predators decreases the performance of herbivores, suggesting that it induces plant defences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-113
Issue number1
Early online date9 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Frankliniella occidentalis
  • Myzus persicae
  • Plant hormones
  • Tetranychus urticae


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