Evol Ecol Res 7: 1153-1170 (2005)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Diet affects the immune defence and life-history traits of an Arctiid moth Parasemia plantaginis

Katja Ojala,1* Riitaa Julkunen-Tiitto,2 Leena Lindström1 and Johanna Mappes1

1Department of Biological and Environmental Science, University of Jyväskylä, PO Box 35, FI-40014 Jyväskylä and  2Natural Products Laboratory, Department of Biology, University of Joensuu, PO Box 111, FI-80101 Joensuu, Finland

Author to whom all correspondence should be addressed.
e-mail: katojala@cc.jyu.fi


Questions: Does herbivores’ diet per se affect their immunocompetence? Do other fitness measures vary accordingly? Can the observed differences be explained by the chemical composition of the diets?

Organisms: Full-sib families of Parasemia plantaginis (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae).

Methods: We reared larvae in laboratory on five different diets. We tested the encapsulation ability of the larvae with standard artificial implants. We also analysed the phenols, tannins and antioxidants in the diets. We then compared the encapsulation and chemical analysis results to other fitness measurements (pupal mass, development time, growth rate, survival and egg production).

Results: We found that the ability of P. plantaginis to encapsulate a foreign object varies depending on the host plant species and that the ability corresponds with the amount of antioxidants in the diet. However, the other fitness measures did not correlate with encapsulation ability. We also found a significant host plant–genotype interaction in encapsulation ability suggesting heritable variation and a possible trade-off in specialization to different host plant species.

Keywords: antioxidant, encapsulation, genotype–environment interaction, immunocompetence, parasitoid resistance, phenolics.

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