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Research article2004Peer reviewed

Willow genotype, but not drought treatment, affects foliar phenolic concentrations and leaf-beetle resistance

Glynn, Carolyn; Rönnberg Wästljung, Ann-Christin; Julkunen-Tiitto, Riitta; Weih, Martin


In a greenhouse experiment we examined the effect of willow genotype and irrigation regime (drought and well watered) on plant growth parameters foliar nitrogen and phenolic concentrations as well as on the preference and performance of the blue leaf beetle, Phratora vulgatissima (L.) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). The 10 vegetatively propagated willow genotypes in the experiments were F2 full-sibling hybrids, originated from a cross between Salix viminalis (L.) (Salicaceae) (high in condensed tannins) and S. dasyclados (L.) (Salicaceae) (rich in phenolic glycosides). Insect bioassays were conducted on detached leaves in Petri dishes as well as with free-living insects on intact potted plants. The ten-week long irrigation treatments caused statistically significant phenotypic differences in the potted willow saplings. Total biomass was somewhat higher in the well-watered treatment. The root to total biomass ratio was higher in the drought-treatment plants. There was significant genotypic variation in foliar nitrogen concentrations, and they were higher in the drought-treated plants. There was a strong genotypic variation in each of the phenolic substances analyzed. Condensed tannins, which accounted for the greatest proportion of phenolic mass, were higher in the well-watered treatment. There was, however, no difference in levels of the other phenolics (salicylates, cinnamic acid, flavonoids and chlorogenic acid) between irrigation treatment. The sum of these phenolics was higher in the well-watered treatment. There was a strong variation in P. vulgatissima larval development on different willow genotypes, and larval performance was negatively correlated with levels of salicylates and cinnamic acid. There was, however, no effect of irrigation treatment on larval performance. Phratora vulgatissima preferred to feed on well-watered plants, and we found a preference for oviposition there, but neither feeding nor oviposition site preference was affected by willow genotype. Adult feeding and oviposition preferences were not correlated with larval performance


Phratora vulgatissima; Salix viminalis; Salix dasyclados; F2 hybrid; insect bioassays; preference-performance; trade-off growth defense; insect resistance; genotype by environment interactions; resource allocation; root/shoot ratio; Coleoptera; Chrysomelidae

Published in

Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
2004, Volume: 113, number: 1, pages: 1-14

        SLU Authors

        • Weih, Martin

          • Department of Short Rotation Forestry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

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