Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

Oak genotype and phenolic compounds differently affect the performance of two insect herbivores with contrasting diet breadth

Abstract : Research on plant–herbivore interactions has long recognized that plant genetic variation plays a central role in driving insect abundance and herbivory, as well as in determining plant defense. However, how plant genes influence herbivore feeding performances, and which plant defensive traits mediate these effects, remain poorly understood. Here we investigated the feeding performances of two insect leaf chewers with contrasting diet breadth (the generalist Lymantria dispar L. and the specialist Thaumetopoea processionea L.) on different genotypes of pedunculate oak (Quercus robur L.) and tested the role of leaf phenolics. We used leaves from four clones of 30 Q. robur full-sibs grown in a common garden to estimate the performance of both herbivores in laboratory feeding trials and to quantify the concentration of constitutive chemical defences (phenolic compounds). We found that tree genetics influenced leaf consumption by T. processionea but not by L. dispar. However genetic variation among trees did not explain growth rate variation in either herbivore nor in leaf phenolics. Interestingly, all phenolic compounds displayed a positive relationship with L. dispar growth rate, and leaf consumption by both herbivores displayed a positive relationship with the concentrations of condensed tannins, suggesting that highly defended leaves could induce a compensatory feeding response. While genetic variation in oaks did not explain herbivore growth rate, we found positive genetic correlations between the two herbivores for leaf consumption and digestion. Overall, we found that oak genotype and phenolic compounds partly and independently contribute to variability in herbivore performance. We challenged the current view of plant–insect interaction and provided little support to the idea that the effect of plant genotype on associated organisms is driven by plant defences. Together, our results point to the existence of genetically determined resistance traits in oaks whose effects differ between herbivores and motivate further research on mechanisms governing oak–herbivore interactions.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Migration ProdInra Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, May 25, 2020 - 1:13:28 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 7, 2022 - 5:26:27 PM




Thomas Damestoy, Benjamin Brachi, Xoaquín Moreira, Herve Jactel, Christophe Plomion, et al.. Oak genotype and phenolic compounds differently affect the performance of two insect herbivores with contrasting diet breadth. Tree Physiology, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2019, 39 (4), pp.615-627. ⟨10.1093/treephys/tpy149⟩. ⟨hal-02617788⟩



Record views