What doesn't kill you makes you stronger: the burdens and benefits of toxin sequestration in a milkweed aphid

Züst, Tobias; Mou, Sophie; Agrawal, Anurag A. (2018). What doesn't kill you makes you stronger: the burdens and benefits of toxin sequestration in a milkweed aphid. Functional Ecology, 32(8), pp. 1972-1981. Blackwell Scientific Publications 10.1111/1365-2435.13144

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1.Specialized insect herbivores commonly co‐opt plant defences for protection against predators, but the costs, benefits, and mechanisms of sequestration are poorly understood. 2.We quantified sequestration of toxic cardenolides by the specialist aphid Aphis nerii when reared on four closely related milkweed (Asclepias) species with >20‐fold variation in cardenolide content, and in the presence or absence of generalist ladybug predators. 3.Increasing concentrations of apolar plant cardenolides increased sequestered amounts in aphids. High concentrations in plants impaired aphid population growth, but also reduced the top‐down effects of predators. An in vitro enzymatic assay of total cardenolides in aphid bodies using the cardenolides’ target (animal Na+/K+‐ATPase) revealed that the subset of sequestered cardenolides is disproportionally more toxic than cardenolides in leaves. 4.All aphids accumulated two cardenolides not present in their host plant, even on plants with very low foliar cardenolide concentrations. Sequestration of potent cardenolides by Aphis nerii thus involves passive, concentration‐dependent uptake from the host plant, as well as a presumably more active mechanism of modification and up‐concentration of plant cardenolides. 5.The concentration of toxins in the host plant thus not only determines the negative impacts on growth and performance of an aphid, but also the ease and efficiency by which toxins are sequestered for the aphid's defence, making the costs and benefits of plant toxins highly context‐dependent for both the plant and the herbivore. Therefore, variation in plant toxins is of central importance for co‐evolutionary plant‐insect interactions, particularly in environments with variable predator pressure.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biotic Interactions
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Züst, Tobias

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0269-8463

Publisher:

Blackwell Scientific Publications

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

29 May 2018 15:02

Last Modified:

23 May 2019 02:30

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/1365-2435.13144

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Aphis nerii, Asclepias, cardenolides, multitrophic interactions, population growth, predator-prey, toxin tolerance

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.116874

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/116874

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