Effects of altered cyanogenesis in salt-stressed white clover plants on Hypera punctata
Methods We exposed experimental clonal plants to five levels of soil salinity and quantified cyanogenic potential (HCNp; total amount of accumulated cyanide in a given plant tissue), β-glucosidase activity, soluble protein concentration and biomass production. In cafeteria-style feeding trials with a specialist herbivore (clover leaf weevil, Hypera punctata) we tested for attractiveness of plant material grown under the different salt treatments.
ResultsSalt treatment resulted in an up-regulation of HCNp whereas β-glucosidase activity and soluble protein concentration showed no significant variation among treatments. Leaf area consumption of the herbivore species was negatively correlated with HCNp, indicating bottom-up effects of salinity-mediated changes in HCNp on plant consumers.
Conclusion Our results suggest that soil salinity leads to an up-regulation of cyanogenesis in white clover, which results in enhanced resistance against a natural herbivore.
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