Herbivore species sharing a host plant often compete. In this study, we show that host plant-mediated interaction between two insect herbivores - a generalist and a specialist - results in a sex ratio shift of the specialist's offspring. We studied demographic parameters of the specialist Tupiocoris notatus (Hemiptera: Miridae) when co-infesting the host plant Nicotiana attenuata (Solanaceae) with the generalist leafhopper Empoasca sp. (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). We show that the usually female-biased sex ratio of T. notatus shifts toward a higher male proportion in the offspring on plants co-infested by Empoasca sp. This sex ratio change did not occur after oviposition, nor is it due differential mortality of female and male nymphs. Based on pyrosequencing and PCR of bacterial 16S rRNA amplicons, we concluded that sex ratio shifts were unlikely to be due to infection with Wolbachia or other known sex ratio-distorting endosymbionts. Finally, we used transgenic lines of N. attenuata to evaluate if the sex ratio shift could be mediated by changes in general or specialized host plant metabolites. We found that the sex ratio shift occurred on plants deficient in two cytokinin receptors (irCHK2/3). Thus, cytokinin-regulated traits can alter the offspring sex ratio of the specialist T. notatus.
PubMed ID: 27862998
Journal: J Integr Plant Biol
Citation: J Integr Plant Biol. 2017 Jan;59(1):44-59. doi: 10.1111/jipb.12507.
Date Published: 20th Nov 2016
Created: 3rd Jul 2017 at 10:49