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Oviposition decision of the weevil Exapion ulicis on Ulex europaeus depends on external and internal pod cues

Abstract : Understanding mechanisms underlying insects’ host choice and plant susceptibility is important to the study of plant-insect interactions in general, and in the context of plant invasions. This study investigates the oviposition and feeding choices of the specialist weevil Exapion ulicis on the invasive plant species Ulex europaeus, gorse. To do so, we studied the oviposition and feeding preferences of the weevil in choice experiments, using pods and flowers, respectively, from gorses grown in a common garden. The plants used came from regions with different infestation histories: Brittany and Scotland belong to the native range, where the weevil is present, while Reunion and New Zealand belong to the invasive range, where the weevil was not initially introduced with gorse. Results show that 1/ female lay more eggs in pods from invaded regions than in posds from native regions, in agreement with the EICA hypothesis, 2/ that oviposition choice of E. ulicis females is driven by cues located at the surface of pods and inside them, including pod size and pod seed content. Feeding-choice experiments showed a different pattern of preference compared to oviposition. Taken together with previous studies, our results reveal that E. ulicis uses several traits to choose its host, including whole-plant traits, flower traits and pod traits, and that some of these traits make plants from invades regions more attracting for female oviposition.
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Benjamin Hornoy, Michèle Tarayre, Jean-Sébastien Pierre, Anne Atlan. Oviposition decision of the weevil Exapion ulicis on Ulex europaeus depends on external and internal pod cues. Diversity, MDPI, 2013, 5 (4), pp.734-749. ⟨10.3390/d5040734⟩. ⟨hal-01093542⟩

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