Arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis increases host plant acceptance and population growth rates of the two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae

Daniela Hoffmann, Horst Vierheilig, Peter Schausberger

Most terrestrial plants live in symbiosis with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi. Studies on the direct interaction between plants and mycorrhizal fungi are numerous whereas studies on the indirect interaction between such fungi and herbivores feeding on aboveground plant parts are scarce. We studied the impact of AM symbiosis on host plant choice and life history of an acarine surface piercing-sucking herbivore, the polyphagous two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae. Experiments were performed on detached leaflets taken from common bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris) colonized or not colonized by the AM fungus Glomus mosseae. T. urticae females were subjected to choice tests between leaves from mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants. Juvenile survival and development, adult female survival, oviposition rate and offspring sex ratio were measured in order to estimate the population growth parameters of T. urticae on either substrate. Moreover, we analyzed the macro- and micronutrient concentration of the aboveground plant parts. Adult T. urticae females preferentially resided and oviposited on mycorrhizal versus non-mycorrhizal leaflets. AM symbiosis significantly decreased embryonic development time and increased the overall oviposition rate as well as the proportion of female offspring produced during peak oviposition. Altogether, the improved life history parameters resulted in significant changes in net reproductive rate, intrinsic rate of increase, doubling time and finite rate of increase. Aboveground parts of colonized plants showed higher concentrations of P and K whereas Mn and Zn were both found at lower levels. This is the first study documenting the effect of AM symbiosis on the population growth rates of a herbivore, tracking the changes in life history characteristics throughout the life cycle. We discuss the AM-plant-herbivore interaction in relation to plant quality, herbivore feeding type and site and the evolutionary implications in a multi-trophic context.

External organisation(s)
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien, Estación Experimental de Zaidín (CSIC)
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Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
106047 Animal ecology, 106051 Behavioural biology, 106022 Microbiology, 106030 Plant ecology
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