Plant genotypic diversity increases population size of a herbivorous insect

Shunsuke Utsumi, Yoshino Ando, Timothy P. Craig, Takayuki Ohgushi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


It is critical to incorporate the process of population dynamics into community genetics studies to identify the mechanisms of the linkage between host plant genetics and associated communities. We studied the effects of plant genotypic diversity of tall goldenrod Solidago altissima on the population dynamics of the aphid Uroleucon nigrotuberculatum. We found genotypic variation in plant resistance to the aphid in our experiments. To determine the impact of plant genotypic diversity on aphid population dynamics, we compared aphid densities under conditions of three treatments: single-genotype plots, mixed-genotype plots and mixed-genotype-with-cages plots. In the latter treatment plants were individually caged to prevent natural enemy attack and aphid movement among plants. The synergistic effects of genotypes on population size were demonstrated by the greater aphid population size in the mixed-genotype treatment than expected from additive effects alone. Two non-exclusive hypotheses are proposed to explain this pattern. First, there is a source-sink relationship among plant genotypes: aphids move from plant genotypes where their reproduction is high to genotypes where their reproduction is low. Second, natural enemy mortality is reduced in mixed plots in a matrix of diverse plant genotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3108-3115
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1721
StatePublished - Oct 22 2011


  • Community genetics
  • Non-additive effect
  • Plant resistance
  • Solidago altissima
  • Source-sink dynamics
  • Uroleucon nigrotuberculatum


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