Effects of strawberry resistance and genotypic diversity on aphids and their natural enemies

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Ecological theory hypothesizes that plant trait diversity may be as important as the presence of specific functional traits (e.g., resistance) for the herbivore and predator communities within a population. We used experimental populations of wild woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca) to test whether the degree of plant genotypic diversity and/or the existence of specific resistance traits play a role in the host plant's community structure specifically, the community of generalist and specialist aphids and their natural enemies. In 2019, we studied the aphid abundance and relative predator abundance in an experimental field site in Alnarp, Southern Sweden; the field consisted of plots planted with combinations of 20 different wild strawberry genotypes. These strawberry genotypes were previously identified as either susceptible to or resistant against the herbivorous beetle (Galerucella tenella). Two aphid species, Chaetosiphon fragaefolii (specialist) and the exotic Aphis gossypii (generalist) were found in the plots and of the two species A. gossypii was dominant. The abundance of the specialist aphid (C. fragaefolii) was highest in susceptible plots with high genotypic diversity, while the generalist (A. gossypii) was highest in plots with a mix of resistant and susceptible plants with high genotypic diversity. Anthocorid predators, developed significantly higher population densities in strawberry plots with high genotypic diversity. Overall, predator abundance showed a positive correlation with aphid abundance. These results show that the specific functional trait of resistance as well as plant diversity affected aphids. Knowledge about these effects can be important factors to consider when designing strawberry plantings less susceptible to aphids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104919
JournalBiological Control
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Inc.

    Research areas

  • Conservation biocontrol, Conservation biological control, Cultivar mixtures, Genetic diversity, Herbivory, Plant resistance, Resistance mixtures, Woodland strawberry

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