Simple Summary The investigation of insect attachment ability in relation to plant mechanical barriers can shed light on the different steps driving host plant selection in phytophagous insects and help to better understand the complex antagonistic coevolution between insects and plants. In this context, we investigated the attachment ability of the oligophagous melon ladybird beetle Chnootriba elaterii at different developmental stages (adult, larva, eggs) to leaves of several Cucurbitaceae species (watermelon, melon, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, squirting cucumber, calabash and loofah) characterized by the presence of glandular and non-glandular trichomes with different characteristics (density, length). We used different techniques (scanning electron microscopy, traction force experiments and centrifugal force tests) to characterize the plant leaf surface and insect attachment devices and measure insect attachment ability to the leaf of the different plant species. Data regarding morphological leaf traits of Cucurbitaceae associated with their resistance against phytophagous insects, combined with data regarding the chemical cues involved in the host plant selection, can help to develop environmentally friendly pest control methods. This study investigates the attachment ability of the oligophagous melon ladybird beetle Chnootriba elaterii to leaves of several Cucurbitaceae species. Using cryo-SEM, we described adult and larva tarsal attachment devices and leaf surface structures (glandular and non-glandular trichomes) in Citrullus lanatus, Cucumis melo, Cucumis sativus, Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita pepo, Ecballium elaterium, Lagenaria siceraria and Luffa aegyptiaca. Using traction force experiments and centrifugal force tests, we measured the friction force exerted by females and larvae on plant leaves. We observed that Cucurbitaceae glandular trichomes do not affect insect attachment ability at both developmental stages, suggesting some adaptation of C. elaterii to its host plants, while non-glandular trichomes, when they are dense, short and flexible, heavily reduce the attachment ability of both insect stages. When trichomes are dense but stiff, only the larval force is reduced, probably because the larva has a single claw, in contrast to the adult having paired bifid dentate claws. The data on the mechanical interaction of C. elaterii at different developmental stages with different Cucurbitaceae species, combined with data on the chemical cues involved in the host plant selection, can help to unravel the complex factors driving the coevolution between an oligophagous insect and its host plant species.

Effect of Leaf Trichomes in Different Species of Cucurbitaceae on Attachment Ability of the Melon Ladybird Beetle Chnootriba elaterii

Saitta, Valerio;Rebora, Manuela
;
Piersanti, Silvana;Salerno, Gianandrea
2022-01-01

Abstract

Simple Summary The investigation of insect attachment ability in relation to plant mechanical barriers can shed light on the different steps driving host plant selection in phytophagous insects and help to better understand the complex antagonistic coevolution between insects and plants. In this context, we investigated the attachment ability of the oligophagous melon ladybird beetle Chnootriba elaterii at different developmental stages (adult, larva, eggs) to leaves of several Cucurbitaceae species (watermelon, melon, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, squirting cucumber, calabash and loofah) characterized by the presence of glandular and non-glandular trichomes with different characteristics (density, length). We used different techniques (scanning electron microscopy, traction force experiments and centrifugal force tests) to characterize the plant leaf surface and insect attachment devices and measure insect attachment ability to the leaf of the different plant species. Data regarding morphological leaf traits of Cucurbitaceae associated with their resistance against phytophagous insects, combined with data regarding the chemical cues involved in the host plant selection, can help to develop environmentally friendly pest control methods. This study investigates the attachment ability of the oligophagous melon ladybird beetle Chnootriba elaterii to leaves of several Cucurbitaceae species. Using cryo-SEM, we described adult and larva tarsal attachment devices and leaf surface structures (glandular and non-glandular trichomes) in Citrullus lanatus, Cucumis melo, Cucumis sativus, Cucurbita moschata, Cucurbita pepo, Ecballium elaterium, Lagenaria siceraria and Luffa aegyptiaca. Using traction force experiments and centrifugal force tests, we measured the friction force exerted by females and larvae on plant leaves. We observed that Cucurbitaceae glandular trichomes do not affect insect attachment ability at both developmental stages, suggesting some adaptation of C. elaterii to its host plants, while non-glandular trichomes, when they are dense, short and flexible, heavily reduce the attachment ability of both insect stages. When trichomes are dense but stiff, only the larval force is reduced, probably because the larva has a single claw, in contrast to the adult having paired bifid dentate claws. The data on the mechanical interaction of C. elaterii at different developmental stages with different Cucurbitaceae species, combined with data on the chemical cues involved in the host plant selection, can help to unravel the complex factors driving the coevolution between an oligophagous insect and its host plant species.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11391/1539073
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