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Find video protocols related to scientific articles indexed in Pubmed.
Chemical and mechanical defenses vary among maternal lines and leaf ages in Verbascum thapsus L. (Scrophulariaceae) and reduce palatability to a generalist insect.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 08-15-2014
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Intra-specific variation in host-plant quality affects herbivore foraging decisions and, in turn, herbivore foraging decisions mediate plant fitness. In particular, variation in defenses against herbivores, both among and within plants, shapes herbivore behavior. If variation in defenses is genetically based, it can respond to natural selection by herbivores. We quantified intra-specific variation in iridoid glycosides, trichome length, and leaf strength in common mullein (Verbascum thapsus L, Scrophulariaceae) among maternal lines within a population and among leaves within plants, and related this variation to feeding preferences of a generalist herbivore, Trichopulsia ni Hübner. We found significant variation in all three defenses among maternal lines, with T. ni preferring plants with lower investment in chemical, but not mechanical, defense. Within plants, old leaves had lower levels of all defenses than young leaves, and were strongly preferred by T. ni. Caterpillars also preferred leaves with trichomes removed to leaves with trichomes intact. Differences among maternal lines indicate that phenotypic variation in defenses likely has a genetic basis. Furthermore, these results reveal that the feeding behaviors of T. ni map onto variation in plant defense in a predictable way. This work highlights the importance of variation in host-plant quality in driving interactions between plants and their herbivores.
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Evidence for the adaptive significance of secondary compounds in vertebrate-dispersed fruits.
Am. Nat.
PUBLISHED: 09-05-2013
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Abstract Although the primary function of fleshy fruits is to attract seed dispersers, many ripe fruits contain toxic secondary compounds. A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain this evolutionary paradox, most of which describe the potential adaptive role that secondary compounds may play in seed dispersal. However, some authors have argued that fruit secondary compounds may be nonadaptive and instead explain their occurrence as a pleiotropic consequence of selection for defense of leaves and other tissues. We address these alternative evolutionary hypotheses through a comparative examination of iridoid glycosides in the leaves, unripe fruits, and ripe fruits of Lonicera × bella (Belles bush honeysuckle), combined with an examination of fruit damage and removal in natural populations. We provide several lines of evidence that fruit secondary compounds cannot be explained solely as a consequence of foliar defense, including higher concentrations and more individual compounds in fruits compared to leaves and a negative relationship between iridoid glycoside concentration and fruit damage. However, we also show that the compositions and concentrations of secondary compounds in leaves and fruits are not entirely independent, emphasizing that selection in different plant parts is intrinsically linked. We conclude that the adaptive significance of chemical traits is best considered in a whole-plant context that includes fruit-frugivore interactions.
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Incorporation of an introduced weed into the diet of a native butterfly: consequences for preference, performance and chemical defense.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 05-23-2013
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The introduction of exotic plants, animals, and pathogens into non-native ecosystems can have profound effects on native organisms. Plantago lanceolata, narrow-leaf or ribwort plantain (Plantaginaceae), is a weed that was introduced to North America from Eurasia approximately 200 years ago and that has been incorporated into the diet of a variety of native North American herbivores. Plantain contains two iridoid glycosides, aucubin and catalpol, that can be toxic or deterrent to non-specialized herbivores or herbivores that have recently incorporated this species into their diet. Anartia jatrophae (Nymphalidae), the white peacock, feeds on plants in five families including the Plantaginaceae, and was recently observed feeding on plantain; however, the effects of feeding on this novel host plant are unknown. In this study, we performed a series of experiments to assess larval preference and performance on the introduced P. lanceolata and on a native host plant that does not contain iridoid glycosides, water hyssop, Bacopa monnieri (Plantaginaceae). We also tested whether or not white peacocks were able to sequester iridoid glycosides and compared this ability with an iridoid specialist, the buckeye, Junonia coenia (Nymphalidae). White peacocks successfully developed to the adult stage on plantain; larvae grew more slowly but pupae were heavier when compared with larvae and pupae reared on the native host plant. Larvae showed induced feeding preferences for the host plant on which they were reared. Furthermore, larvae sequestered small amounts of iridoids that were also retained in pupae and adults. These results suggest that incorporation of the introduced weed, plantain, into the diet of the white peacock may have important consequences for larval performance and preference, as well as for interactions with natural enemies.
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Patterns of phytochemical variation in Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkeyflower).
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 02-18-2013
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The search for general patterns in the production and allocation of plant defense traits will be facilitated by characterizing multivariate suites of defense, as well as by studying additional plant taxa, particularly those with available genomic resources. Here, we investigated patterns of genetic variation in phytochemical defenses (phenylpropanoid glycosides, PPGs) in Mimulus guttatus (yellow monkeyflower). We grew plants derived from several natural populations, consisting of multiple full-sibling families within each population, in a common greenhouse environment. We found substantial variation in the constitutive multivariate PPG phenotype and in constitutive levels of individual phytochemicals within plants (among leaves of different ages), within populations (among full-sibling families), and among populations. Populations consisting of annual plants generally, but not always, had lower concentrations of phytochemicals than did populations of perennial plants. Populations differed in their plastic response to artificial herbivory, both in the overall multivariate PPG phenotype and in the individual phytochemicals. The relationship between phytochemistry and another defense trait, trichomes, differed among populations. Finally, we demonstrated that one of the PPGs, verbascoside, acts as a feeding stimulant rather than a feeding deterrent for a specialist herbivore of M. guttatus, the buckeye caterpillar (Junonia coenia Nymphalidae). Given its available genetic resources, numerous, easily accessible natural populations, and patterns of genetic variation highlighted in this research, M. guttatus provides an ideal model system in which to test ecological and evolutionary theories of plant-herbivore interactions.
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Effects of insect herbivory on induced chemical defences and compensation during early plant development in Penstemon virgatus.
Ann. Bot.
PUBLISHED: 02-05-2013
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The lack of studies assessing the simultaneous expression of tolerance and resistance traits during seedling development and overall seedling defences as compared with adult plants, in general, constitutes a significant research need that can greatly improve our understanding of overall investment in defences during plant ontogeny.
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Changes in plant chemical defenses and nutritional quality as a function of ontogeny in Plantago lanceolata (Plantaginaceae).
Oecologia
PUBLISHED: 07-26-2011
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Numerous empirical studies have examined ontogenetic trajectories in plant defenses but only a few have explored the potential mechanisms underlying those patterns. Furthermore, most documented ontogenetic trajectories in plant defenses have generally concentrated on aboveground tissues; thus, our knowledge regarding whole plant trends in plant defenses throughout development or potential allocation constraints between growth and defenses is limited. Here, we document changes in plant biomass, nutritional quality and chemical defenses for below- and aboveground tissues across seven age classes of Plantago lanceolata (Plantaginaceae) to evaluate: (1) partial and whole plant ontogenetic trajectories in constitutive chemical defenses and nutritional quality, and (2) the role of resource allocation constraints, namely root:shoot (R:S) ratios, in explaining whole plant investment in chemical defenses over time. Overall investment in iridoid glycosides (IGs) significantly increased, while water and nitrogen concentrations in shoot tissues decreased with plant age. Significant variation in IG content between shoot and root tissues across development was observed: allocation of IGs into root tissues linearly increased from younger to older plants, while non-linear shifts in allocation of IGs during ontogeny were observed for shoot tissues. Finally, R:S ratios only weakly explained overall allocation of resources into defenses, with young stages showing a positive relationship, while older stages showed a negative relationship between R:S ratios and IG concentrations. Ontogenetic trajectories in plant quality and defenses within and among plant tissues can strongly influence insect herbivores performance and/or predation risk; thus, they are likely to play a significant role in mediating species interactions.
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Chemical defense across three trophic levels: Catalpa bignonioides, the caterpillar Ceratomia catalpae, and its endoparasitoid Cotesia congregata.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 05-24-2011
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Plant secondary chemistry can vary among plant tissues, individuals, and populations, and this variation has population-level consequences for upper trophic levels. In this study, we examined the multi-trophic consequences of variation in iridoid glycosides, which are a component of plant defense against generalist herbivores and also contribute to the unpalatability of sequestering herbivores to both vertebrate and invertebrate predators. Several populations of Catalpa bignonioides were located and examined for the presence of the Catalpa Sphinx, Ceratomia catalpae, a specialist herbivore of Catalpa. We quantified iridoid glycoside content in Catalpa Sphinx caterpillars and in damaged and undamaged C. bignonioides leaves. Overall, leaves of C. bignonioides that were damaged by Catalpa Sphinx caterpillars contained lower concentrations of two major iridoid glycosides, catalpol and catalposide, than leaves of undamaged trees from naturally occurring populations. Catalpa Sphinx caterpillars sequester only catalpol, and increasing catalpol and catalposide concentrations in leaves were associated with increased catalpol sequestration by caterpillars. The parasitoid Cotesia congregata develops successfully inside catalpol-sequestering Catalpa Sphinx caterpillars, and we examined parasitoid larvae for the presence of catalpol. Parasitoid larvae dissected from caterpillars contained catalpol, but at lower concentrations than their host caterpillars. The variation in chemical defense documented here has rarely been documented over multiple trophic levels, but such resolved systems are ideal for examining competing hypotheses about the effects of plant secondary metabolites on higher trophic levels.
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Plant induced defenses depend more on plant age than previous history of damage: implications for plant-herbivore interactions.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 05-15-2011
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Herbivore-induced plant responses can significantly change as a function of plant developmental stage and previous history of damage. Yet, empirical tests that assess the combined role of multiple damage events and age-dependent constraints on the ability of plants to induce defenses within and among tissues are scarce. This question is of particular interest for annual and/or short-lived perennial plant species, whose responses to single or multiple damage events over a growing season are likely to interact with ontogenetic constraints in affecting a plants ability to respond to herbivory. Using Plantago lanceolata and one of its specialist herbivores, Junonia coenia, we examined the effect of plant ontogeny (juvenile vs. mature developmental stages) and history of damage (single and multiple damage events early and/or late in the season) on plant responses to leaf damage. Plant responses to herbivory were assessed as induced chemical defenses (iridoid glycosides) and compensatory regrowth, in both above- and below-ground tissues. We found that constitutive concentration of iridoid glycosides markedly increased as plants matured, but plant ability to induce chemical defenses was limited to juvenile, but not mature, plant stages. In addition, induced defenses observed 7 d following herbivory in juvenile plants disappeared 5 wk after the first herbivory event, and mature plants that varied considerably in the frequency and intensity of damage received over 5 wk, did not differ significantly in their levels of chemical defenses. Also, only small changes in compensatory regrowth were detected. Finally, we did not observe changes in below-ground tissues defenses or biomass a week following 50% removal of leaf tissues at either age class or history of damage. Together, these results suggest that in P. lanceolata and perhaps other systems, ontogenetic trajectories in plant growth and defenses leading to strong age-dependent induced responses may prevail over herbivore-induced indirect interactions.
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A comparison of sample preparation techniques for quantifying iridoid glycosides sequestered by lepidopteran larvae.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 02-15-2011
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This study compared different methods of tissue preparation for extraction of iridoid glycosides sequestered by three species of lepidopteran larvae. Junonia coenia is a specialist on plant species that produce iridoid glycosides, while the arctiids Estigmene acrea and Spilosoma congrua are both polyphagous and will eat plants that produce iridoid glycosides. Larvae of all three species were reared on leaves of Plantago lanceolata, which produces two primary iridoid glycosides, aucubin and catalpol. Three methods of preparing the specimens before extraction in methanol were compared in all three species: 1) larvae were flash-frozen in liquid nitrogen, 2) larvae were macerated fresh in boiling methanol, or 3) larvae were macerated fresh in room temperature methanol. A set of J. coenia larvae was oven-dried before maceration as an additional treatment for this species only. Junonia coenia sequestered the most iridoid glycosides, while E. acrea sequestered the least, and S. congrua was intermediate. Estigmene acrea was poor at sequestering catalpol. Tissue preparation method only significantly influenced iridoid glycoside recovery from S. congrua, with maceration in room-temperature methanol being the most effective of the three methods. This study shows that treatment of insects prior to iridoid glycoside extraction can influence recovery of the compounds, and that the effects of treatment may vary among different species.
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Effects of ingested secondary metabolites on the immune response of a polyphagous caterpillar Grammia incorrupta.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 02-11-2011
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We considered the effects of plant secondary metabolites on the immune response, a key physiological defense of herbivores against pathogens and parasitoids. We tested the effect of host plant species and ingested iridoid glycosides on the immune response of the grazing, polyphagous caterpillar, Grammia incorrupta (Arctiidae). Individuals of G. incorrupta were fed either one of three plant diets with varying secondary metabolites, or an artificial diet with high or low concentrations of iridoid glycosides. An immune challenge was presented, followed by measurement of the encapsulation response. We failed to detect a significant difference in the immune response of G. incorrupta feeding on diets with varying concentrations of iridoid glycosides, or feeding on different host plants. However, the immune response was lower in caterpillars consuming the artificial diet compared to those consuming the plant diets. When caterpillar performance was measured, pupal weights were lower when caterpillars ingested high concentrations of iridoid glycosides due to a decrease in feeding efficiency. Overall, individuals of G. incorrupta that consumed different plant diets exhibited a high immune response with low variation. We conclude that the immune response of G. incorrupta is adapted to feeding on a variety of plants, which may contribute to the maintenance of this caterpillars polyphagous habit.
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Influence of iridoid glycoside containing host plants on midgut ?-glucosidase activity in a polyphagous caterpillar, Spilosoma virginica Fabricius (Arctiidae).
J. Insect Physiol.
PUBLISHED: 08-11-2010
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Iridoid glycosides are secondary plant compounds that have deterrent, growth reducing or even toxic effects on non-adapted herbivorous insects. To investigate the effects of iridoid glycoside containing plants on the digestive metabolism of a generalist herbivore, larvae of Spilosoma virginica (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) were reared on three plant species that differ in their secondary plant chemistry: Taraxacum officinale (no iridoid glycosides), Plantago major (low iridoid glycoside content), and P. lanceolata (high iridoid glycoside content). Midguts of fifth instar larvae were assayed for the activity and kinetic properties of ?-glucosidase using different substrates. Compared to the larvae on T. officinale, the ?-glucosidase activity of larvae feeding on P. lanceolata was significantly lower measured with 4-nitrophenyl-?-d-glucopyranoside. Using the iridoid glycoside aucubin as a substrate, we did not find differences in the ?-glucosidase activity of the larvae reared on the three plants. Heat inactivation experiments revealed the existence of a heat-labile and a more heat-stable ?-glucosidase with similar Michaelis constants for 4-nitrophenyl-?-d-glucopyranoside. We discuss possible mechanisms leading to the observed decrease of ?-glucosidase activity for larvae reared on P. lanceolata and its relevance for generalist herbivores in adapting to iridoid glycoside containing plant species and their use as potential host plants.
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Host plant influences on iridoid glycoside sequestration of generalist and specialist caterpillars.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 05-21-2010
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The effect of diet on sequestration of iridoid glycosides was examined in larvae of three lepidopteran species. Larvae were reared upon Plantago major, or P. lanceolata, or switched from one to the other in the penultimate instar. Junonia coenia is a specialist on iridoid glycoside-producing plants, whereas the arctiids, Spilosoma congrua and Estigmene acrea, are both polyphagous and eat iridoid-producing plants. All species sequestered iridoids. The specialist J. coenia sequestered from three to seven times the amounts sequestered by the two generalist species. Junonia coenia iridoid glycoside content depended on diet, and they sequestered from 5 to 15% dry weight iridoid glycosides. Estigmene acrea iridoid glycoside sequestration was relatively low, around 2% dry weight and did not vary with diet. Spilosoma congrua sequestration varied with diet and ranged from approximately 3 to 6% dry weight.
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Grasshopper community response to climatic change: variation along an elevational gradient.
PLoS ONE
PUBLISHED: 05-05-2010
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The impacts of climate change on phenological responses of species and communities are well-documented; however, many such studies are correlational and so less effective at assessing the causal links between changes in climate and changes in phenology. Using grasshopper communities found along an elevational gradient, we present an ideal system along the Front Range of Colorado USA that provides a mechanistic link between climate and phenology.
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Caterpillar chemical defense and parasitoid success: Cotesia congregata parasitism of Ceratomia catalpae.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 03-09-2010
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Sequestration of plant compounds by herbivorous insects as a defense against predators is well documented; however, few studies have examined the effectiveness of sequestration as a defense against parasitoids. One assumption of the "nasty host" hypothesis is that sequestration of plant defense compounds is deleterious to parasitoid development. We tested this hypothesis with larvae of the sequestering sphingid Ceratomia catalpae, which is heavily parasitized by the endoparasitoid Cotesia congregata, despite sequestering high concentrations of the iridoid glycoside catalpol from their catalpa host plants. We collected C. catalpae and catalpa leaves from six populations in the Eastern US, and allowed any C. congregata to emerge in the lab. Leaf iridoid glycosides and caterpillar iridoid glycosides were quantified, and we examined associations between sequestered caterpillar iridoid glycosides and C. congregata performance. Caterpillar iridoid glycosides were not associated with C. congregata field parasitism or number of offspring produced. Although wasp survival was over 90% in all populations, there was a slight negative relationship between caterpillar iridoid glycosides and wasp survival. Iridoid glycosides were present in caterpillars at levels that are deterrent to a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate predators. Thus, our results support the alternative hypothesis that unpalatable, chemically defended hosts are "safe havens" for endoparasitoids. Future trials examining the importance of catalpol sequestration to potential natural enemies of C. congregata and C. catalpae are necessary to strengthen this conclusion.
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Iridoid glycoside variation in the invasive plant Dalmatian toadflax, Linaria dalmatica (Plantaginaceae), and sequestration by the biological control agent, Calophasia lunula.
J. Chem. Ecol.
PUBLISHED: 01-16-2010
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Invasive plant species can have significant ecological and economic impacts. Although numerous hypotheses highlight the importance of the chemical defenses of invasive plant species, the chemical ecology of many invasive plants has not yet been investigated. In this study, we provide the first quantitative investigation of variation in iridoid glycoside concentrations of the invasive plant Dalmatian toadflax (Linaria dalmatica). We examined variation in chemical defenses at three levels: (1) variation within and among populations; (2) variation due to phenology and/or seasonal differences; and (3) variation among plant parts (leaves, flowers, and stems). Further, we examined two biological control agents introduced to control L. dalmatica for the ability to sequester iridoid glycosides from this invasive plant. Results indicate that L. dalmatica plants can contain high concentrations of iridoid glycosides (up to 17.4% dry weight of leaves; mean = 6.28?±?0.5 SE). We found significant variation in iridoid glycoside concentrations both within and among plant populations, over the course of the growing season, and among plant parts. We also found that one biological control agent, Calophasia lunula (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), was capable of sequestering antirrhinoside, an iridoid glycoside found in L. dalmatica, at levels ranging from 2.7 to 7.5% dry weight. A second biological control agent, Mecinus janthinus (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a stem-mining weevil, did not sequester iridoid glycosides. The demonstrated variation in L. dalmatica chemical defenses may have implications for understanding variation in the degree of invasiveness of different populations as well as variation in the efficacy of biological control efforts.
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Immunological cost of chemical defence and the evolution of herbivore diet breadth.
Ecol. Lett.
PUBLISHED: 04-08-2009
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Selective pressures from host plant chemistry and natural enemies may contribute independently to driving insect herbivores towards narrow diet breadths. We used the specialist caterpillar, Junonia coenia (Nymphalidae), which sequesters defensive compounds, iridoid glycosides, from its host plants to assess the effects of plant chemistry and sequestration on the larval immune response. A series of experiments using implanted glass beads to challenge immune function showed that larvae feeding on diets with high concentrations of iridoid glycosides are more likely to have their immune response compromised than those feeding on diets low in these compounds. These results indicate that larvae feeding on plants with high concentrations of toxins might be more poorly defended against parasitoids, while at the same time being better defended against predators, suggesting that predators and parasitoids can exert different selective pressures on the evolution of herbivore diet breadth.
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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal species suppress inducible plant responses and alter defensive strategies following herbivory.
Oecologia
PUBLISHED: 03-08-2009
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In a greenhouse experiment using Plantago lanceolata, plants grown with different arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal species differed in constitutive levels of chemical defense depending on the species of AM fungi with which they were associated. AM fungal inoculation also modified the induced chemical response following herbivory by the specialist lepidopoteran herbivore Junonia coenia, and fungal species varied in how they affected induced responses. On average, inoculation with AM fungi substantially reduced the induced chemical response as compared with sterile controls, and inoculation with a mixture of AM fungi suppressed the induced response of P. lanceolata to herbivory. These results suggest that AM fungi can exert controlling influence over plant defensive phenotypes, and a portion of the substantial variation among experimental tests of induced chemical responses may be attributable to AM fungi.
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Iridoid and secoiridoid glycosides in a hybrid complex of bush honeysuckles (Lonicera spp., Caprifolicaceae): implications for evolutionary ecology and invasion biology.
Phytochemistry
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Interspecific hybridization among non-native plant species can generate genotypes that are more reproductively successful in the introduced habitat than either parent. One important mechanism that may serve as a stimulus for the evolution of invasiveness in hybrids is increased variation in secondary metabolite chemistry, but still very little is known about patterns of chemical trait introgression in plant hybrid zones. This study examined the occurrence of iridoid and secoiridoid glycosides (IGs), an important group of plant defense compounds, in three species of honeysuckle, Lonicera morrowii A. Gray, Lonicera tatarica L., and their hybrid Lonicera×bella Zabel. (Caprifoliaceae), all of which are considered invasive in various parts of North America. Hybrid genotypes had a diversity of IGs inherited from both parent species, as well as one component not detected in either parent. All three species were similar in that overall concentrations of IGs were significantly higher in fruits than in leaves, and several compounds that were major components of fruits were never found in leaves. However, specific patterns of quantitative distribution among leaves, unripe fruits, and ripe fruits differed among the three species, with a relatively higher allocation to fruits in the hybrid species than for either parent. These patterns likely have important consequences for plant interactions with antagonistic herbivores and pathogens as well as mutualistic seed dispersers, and thus the potential invasiveness of hybrid and parental species in their introduced range. Methods established here for quantitative analysis of IGs will allow for the exploration of many compelling research questions related to the evolutionary ecology and invasion biology of these and other related species in the genus Lonicera.
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Synergistic effects of iridoid glycosides on the survival, development and immune response of a specialist caterpillar, Junonia coenia (Nymphalidae).
J. Chem. Ecol.
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Plants use a diverse mix of defenses against herbivores, including multiple secondary metabolites, which may affect herbivores synergistically. Chemical defenses also can affect natural enemies of herbivores via limiting herbivore populations or by affecting herbivore resistance or susceptibility to these enemies. In this study, we conducted larval feeding experiments to examine the potential synergistic effects of iridoid glycosides (IGs) found in Plantago spp. (Plantaginaceae) on the specialist buckeye caterpillar, Junonia coenia (Nymphalidae). Caterpillars were placed on artificial diets containing different concentrations of single IGs (aucubin or catalpol alone) or combinations of the two IGs. Larval performance and immune response were recorded to test the hypothesis that IGs would have positive synergistic effects on buckeyes, which are specialists on IG plants. The positive synergistic effects that IGs had on buckeyes in our experiments included lower mortality, faster development, and higher total iridoid glycoside sequestration on mixed diets than on aucubin- or catalpol-only diets. Furthermore, we found negative synergistic effects of IGs on the immune response of buckeye caterpillars. These results demonstrate multiple synergistic effects of IGs and indicate a potential trade-off between larval performance and parasitoid resistance.
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Elevation-dependent temperature trends in the Rocky Mountain Front Range: changes over a 56- and 20-year record.
PLoS ONE
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Determining the magnitude of climate change patterns across elevational gradients is essential for an improved understanding of broader climate change patterns and for predicting hydrologic and ecosystem changes. We present temperature trends from five long-term weather stations along a 2077-meter elevational transect in the Rocky Mountain Front Range of Colorado, USA. These trends were measured over two time periods: a full 56-year record (1953-2008) and a shorter 20-year (1989-2008) record representing a period of widely reported accelerating change. The rate of change of biological indicators, season length and accumulated growing-degree days, were also measured over the 56 and 20-year records. Finally, we compared how well interpolated Parameter-elevation Regression on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) datasets match the quality controlled and weather data from each station. Our results show that warming signals were strongest at mid-elevations over both temporal scales. Over the 56-year record, most sites show warming occurring largely through increases in maximum temperatures, while the 20-year record documents warming associated with increases in maximum temperatures at lower elevations and increases in minimum temperatures at higher elevations. Recent decades have also shown a shift from warming during springtime to warming in July and November. Warming along the gradient has contributed to increases in growing-degree days, although to differing degrees, over both temporal scales. However, the length of the growing season has remained unchanged. Finally, the actual and the PRISM interpolated yearly rates rarely showed strong correlations and suggest different warming and cooling trends at most sites. Interpretation of climate trends and their seasonal biases in the Rocky Mountain Front Range are dependent on both elevation and the temporal scale of analysis. Given mismatches between interpolated data and the directly measured station data, we caution against an over-reliance on interpolation methods for documenting local patterns of climatic change.
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Combining optimal defense theory and the evolutionary dilemma model to refine predictions regarding plant invasion.
Ecology
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Optimal defense theory posits that plants with limited resources deploy chemical defenses based on the fitness value of different tissues and their probability of attack. However, what constitutes optimal defense depends on the identity of the herbivores involved in the interaction. Generalists, which are not tightly coevolved with their many host plants, are typically deterred by chemical defenses, while coevolved specialists are often attracted to these same chemicals. This imposes an "evolutionary dilemma" in which generalists and specialists exert opposing selection on plant investment in defense, thereby stabilizing defenses at intermediate levels. We used the natural shift in herbivore community composition that typifies many plant invasions to test a novel, combined prediction of optimal defense theory and the evolutionary dilemma model: that the within-plant distribution of defenses reflects both the value of different tissues (i.e., young vs. old leaves) and the relative importance of specialist and generalist herbivores in the community. Using populations of Verbascum thapsus exposed to ambient herbivory in its native range (where specialist and generalist chewing herbivores are prevalent) and its introduced range (where only generalist chewing herbivores are prevalent), we illustrate significant differences in the way iridoid glycosides are distributed among young and old leaves. Importantly, high-quality young leaves are 6.5x more highly defended than old leaves in the introduced range, but only 2x more highly defended in the native range. Additionally, defense levels are tracked by patterns of chewing damage, with damage restricted mostly to low-quality old leaves in the introduced range, but not the native range. Given that whole-plant investment in defense does not differ between ranges, introduced mullein may achieve increased fitness simply by optimizing its within-plant distribution of defense in the absence of certain specialist herbivores.
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The interplay between toxin-releasing ?-glucosidase and plant iridoid glycosides impairs larval development in a generalist caterpillar, Grammia incorrupta (Arctiidae).
Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol.
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Herbivores with polyphagous feeding habits must cope with a diet that varies in quality. One of the most important sources of this variation in host plant suitability is plant secondary chemistry. We examined how feeding on plants containing one such group of compounds, the iridoid glycosides, might affect the growth and enzymatic activity in a polyphagous caterpillar that feeds on over 80 plant species in 50 different families. Larvae of the polyphagous arctiid, Grammia incorrupta, were reared exclusively on one of two plant species, one of which contains iridoid glycosides (Plantago lanceolata, Plantaginaceae) while the other does not (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae). Larval weight was measured on the two host plants, and midgut homogenates of last instar larvae were then assayed for activity and kinetic properties of ?-glucosidases, using both a standard substrate, 4-nitrophenyl-?-D-glucose (NP?Glc), and the iridoid glycoside aucubin, one of the two main iridoid glycosides in P. lanceolata. Larvae feeding on P. lanceolata weighed significantly less and developed more slowly compared to larvae on T. officinale. While the larval midgut ?-glucosidase activity determined with NP?Glc was significantly decreased when fed on P. lanceolata, aucubin was substantially hydrolyzed and the larval ?-glucosidase activity towards both substrates correlated negatively with larval weight. Our results demonstrate that host plants containing high concentrations of iridoid glycosides have a negative impact on larval development of this generalist insect herbivore. This is most likely due to the hydrolysis of plant glycosides in the larval midgut which results in the release of toxic aglycones. Linking the reduced larval weight to the toxin-releasing action of an iridoid glycoside cleaving ?-glucosidase, our results thus support the detoxification limitation hypothesis, suggesting fitness costs for the larvae feeding solely on P. lanceolata. Thus, in addition to the adaptive regulation of midgut ?-glucosidase activity, host plant switching as a behavioral adaptation might be a prerequisite for generalist herbivores that allows them to circumvent the negative effects of plant secondary compounds.
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