Theis, Nina , Barber, Nick , Adler, Lynn , Gillespie, Sandy , Hazzard, Ruth .
Attracting mutualists and antagonists: the traits thatexplain the distribution of squash bees and cucumber beetles to crops and wildplants in the Cucurbitoideae.
Secondary metabolites play an important role in attraction and defense. Sweet fragrances can lure pollinators while toxic compounds can defend plants from damage. For insects that specialize on just a few species of closely related plants, defense compounds can function as the lure. Cucurbitacins maybe the bitterest compounds known to man, and yet specialist herbivores, diabroticite beetles feed compulsively in the presence of this non-volatile triterpenoid. Does the presence of this compound explain the distribution of this beetle and the damage it causes across cucurbit taxa? We grew 19 different species and cultivars of cucurbits (including the Texas gourd, bitter gourd, cantaloupe, watermelon, winter melon, and zucchini) in the greenhouse and the field. We measured herbivore and pollinator preference and a variety of floral and leaf traits, including floral volatiles and cucurbitacin content. We found a correlation between cucurbitacin production and beetle presence and damage. Interestingly, the presence of non-volatile cucurbitacins also correlated with visitation by the squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, an important pollinator of cucurbits. In addition, floral volatiles may be another cue used by both pollinator and herbivore. Identifying the relevant plant traits for attraction and deterrence is important in this economically valuable crop system,particularly if as our work suggests, pollinators and herbivores are using the same plant characters as cues.
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1 - Elms College, 291 Springfield St, Chicopee, MA, 01013, USA
2 - Northern Illinois University, Biology, 155 Castle Dr, Montgomery Hall, DeKalb, IL, 60115, USA
3 - UMass Amherst, Plant Soil and Insect Sciences, Fernald Hall, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA
4 - UC Davis, Entomology, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA, 95616, USA
5 - UMass Amherst, Plant Soil and Insect Sciences, 301 Ag Engineering, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Franklin B/Hyatt
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM