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Leaf beetle grazing does not induce willow trichome defence in the coppicing willow Salix viminalis

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1 Willows are frequently attacked and defoliated by adult leaf beetles (Phratora vulgatissima L.) early in the season and the plants are then attacked again when new larvae emerge. The native willow Salix cinerea has previously been shown to respond to adult grazing by producing new leaves with an increased trichome density. Subsequent larval feeding was reduced on new leaves. This type of induced plant response may reduce insect damage and could potentially be utilized for plant protection in agricultural systems.

2 Here, we investigated if the willow species most commonly used for biomass production in short rotation coppice, Salix viminalis, also responds to adult beetle grazing by increasing trichome density. Larval performance and feeding behaviour on plants previously exposed to adult beetles was compared with that on undefoliated control plants in a greenhouse.

3 We found an overall decrease in trichome density within all the plants (i.e. trichome density was lower on new leaves compared to that for older basal leaves on S. viminalis). However, leaves of beetle defoliated plants had a higher trichome density compared to control plants. Larval growth and feeding was not affected by this difference between treatments. Larvae appeared to remove trichomes when feeding on S. viminalis, a behaviour that might explain the lack of difference between treatments.

Keywords: Chrysomelidae; Phratora vulgatissima; Salix viminalis; induced response; leaf trichomes

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Entomology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7044, S-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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