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The applicability of the plant vigor and resource regulation hypotheses in explaining Epiblema gall moth - parthenium weed interactions

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Dhileepan, K. (2004) The applicability of the plant vigor and resource regulation hypotheses in explaining Epiblema gall moth - parthenium weed interactions. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 113 (1). pp. 63-70. ISSN 0013-8703

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Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0013-8703.2004.00209.x


A basic question in insect–plant interactions is whether the insects respond to, or regulate plant traits, or a complex mixture of the two. The relative importance of the directions of the influence in insect–plant interactions has therefore been articulated through both the plant vigor hypothesis (PVH) and the resource regulation hypothesis (RRH). This study tested the applicability of these hypotheses in explaining the interactions between Parthenium hysterophorus L. (Asteraceae) and its stem-galling moth, Epiblema strenuana Walker (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Parthenium plants exposed to galling were sampled at three sites in north Queensland, Australia, over a 2-year period, and the relationship between gall abundance and plant vigor (plant height, biomass, flowers per plant, and branches per plant) was studied. To test the predictions of PVH and RRH, the vigor of parthenium plants protected from galling using insecticides was compared to galled plants and plants that escaped from galling. The vigor of ungalled plants was less than the vigor of galled plants. The higher plant vigor in galled plants was not due to galling, as was evident from insecticide exclusion trials. The insect seemed to preferentially gall the more vigorous plants. These findings support the predictions of the PVH and are contrary to those of RRH. Since gall abundance is linked to plant vigor, galling may have only a limited impact on the vigor of parthenium. This has implications for weed biological control. If the objective of biological control is to regulate the population of a plant by a galling insect, a preference for more vigorous plants by the insect is likely to limit its ability to regulate plant populations. This may explain the paucity of successes against biocontrol of annual weeds using gall insects.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Plant pests and diseases > Weeds, parasitic plants etc
Plant pests and diseases > Pest control and treatment of diseases. Plant protection > Organic plant protection. Biological control
Live Archive:31 Jan 2024 23:52
Last Modified:31 Jan 2024 23:52

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