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Herbivory increases fruit set in Silene latifolia: a consequence of induced pollinator-attracting floral volatiles?


Cozzolino, Salvatore; Fineschi, Silvia; Litto, Maria; Scopece, Giovanni; Trunschke, Judith; Schiestl, Florian P (2015). Herbivory increases fruit set in Silene latifolia: a consequence of induced pollinator-attracting floral volatiles? Journal of Chemical Ecology, 41(7):622-630.

Abstract

Although the effect of herbivory on plant reproduction has been investigated in some detail, little is known about how herbivores affect floral signalling. Here, we investigated the effect of foliar herbivory by the African Cotton Leafworm (Spodoptera littoralis) on floral signalling and fruit set in the White Campion (Silene latifolia). We found no effects of herbivory on floral traits involved in visual signalling (flower number, corolla diameter, calyx length, petal length) or in amount of nectar produced. However, Spodoptera-infested plants emitted higher amounts of the two floral volatiles, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate and β-ocimene, than control plants. Open pollinated, infested plants also were found to produce more fruits than control plants, but only with nocturnal pollinators. Experimental addition of the two induced floral volatiles to non-infested Silene flowers also led to the production of more fruits with nocturnal pollination. This suggests that higher fruit production in herbivore-infested plants was caused by increased nocturnal pollinator attraction, mediated by the induced floral emission of these two volatiles. Our results show that the effects of herbivory on plant reproductive success are not necessarily detrimental, as plants can compensate herbivory with increased investment in pollinator attraction.

Abstract

Although the effect of herbivory on plant reproduction has been investigated in some detail, little is known about how herbivores affect floral signalling. Here, we investigated the effect of foliar herbivory by the African Cotton Leafworm (Spodoptera littoralis) on floral signalling and fruit set in the White Campion (Silene latifolia). We found no effects of herbivory on floral traits involved in visual signalling (flower number, corolla diameter, calyx length, petal length) or in amount of nectar produced. However, Spodoptera-infested plants emitted higher amounts of the two floral volatiles, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate and β-ocimene, than control plants. Open pollinated, infested plants also were found to produce more fruits than control plants, but only with nocturnal pollinators. Experimental addition of the two induced floral volatiles to non-infested Silene flowers also led to the production of more fruits with nocturnal pollination. This suggests that higher fruit production in herbivore-infested plants was caused by increased nocturnal pollinator attraction, mediated by the induced floral emission of these two volatiles. Our results show that the effects of herbivory on plant reproductive success are not necessarily detrimental, as plants can compensate herbivory with increased investment in pollinator attraction.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Language:English
Date:18 June 2015
Deposited On:08 Jul 2015 06:45
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:17
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0098-0331
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-015-0597-3
PubMed ID:26085479

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