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      Chemical defense in Elodea nuttallii reduces feeding and growth of aquatic herbivorous Lepidoptera.

      Journal of Chemical Ecology
      Animals, Feeding Behavior, Flavonoids, chemistry, Hydrocharitaceae, parasitology, Larva, growth & development, physiology, Lepidoptera

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          The submersed macrophyte Elodea nuttallii (Hydrocharitaceae) is invasive in Europe and frequently found in aquatic plant communities. Many invertebrate herbivores, such as larvae of the generalist aquatic moth, Acentria ephemerella (Lepidoptera, Pyralidae), avoid feeding on E. nuttallii and preferably consume native species. First instar larvae exhibited a high mortality on E. nuttallii compared to the native macrophyte Potamogeton perfoliatus. Mortality of older larvae was also high when fed E. nuttallii exposed to high light intensities. Growth of older larvae was strongly reduced on E. nuttallii compared to pondweeds (Potamogeton lucens). Neither differences in nitrogen nor phosphorus content explained the different performance on these submerged macrophytes, but plants differed in their flavonoid content. To investigate whether plant-derived allelochemicals from E. nuttallii affect larval performance in the same way as live plants, we developed a functional bioassay, in which Acentria larvae were reared on artificial diets. We offered larvae Potamogeton leaf disks coated with crude Elodea extracts and partially purified flavonoids. Elodea extracts deterred larvae from feeding on otherwise preferred Potamogeton leaves, and yet, unknown compounds in the extracts reduced growth and survival of Acentria. The flavonoid fraction containing luteolin-7-O-diglucuronide, apigenin-7-O-diglucuronide, and chrysoeriol-7-O-diglucuronide strongly reduced feeding of larvae, but did not increase mortality. The concentrations of these compounds in our assays were 0.01-0.09% of plant dry mass, which is in the lower range of concentrations found in the field (0.02-1.2%). Chemical defense in E. nuttallii thus plays an ecologically relevant role in this aquatic plant-herbivore system.

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          Animals,Feeding Behavior,Flavonoids,chemistry,Hydrocharitaceae,parasitology,Larva,growth & development,physiology,Lepidoptera


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