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Pathogen resistance in the moth Orgyia antiqua: direct influence of host plant dominates over the effects of individual condition

  • S.-L. Sandre (a1), T. Tammaru (a1) and H.M.T. Hokkanen (a2)


The role of pathogens in insect ecology is widely appreciated but remains insufficiently explored. Specifically, there is little understanding about the sources of the variation in the outcome of insect-pathogen interactions. This study addresses the extent to which immune traits of larvae and pupae of the moth Orgyia antiqua L. (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae) depend on the host plant species and individual condition of the insects. The two host plants, Salix myrsinifolia Salisb. and S. viminalis L., were chosen because they differ in the concentration of phenolic glycosides, harmful to most polyphagous insects. Individual condition was assumed to be reflected in body weight and development time, and was manipulated by rearing larvae either singly or in groups of four. The resistance traits recorded were survival and time to death after fungal infection in the larval stage and the efficiency of encapsulating a nylon implant by the pupae. The survival of the infected larvae was mainly determined by the species of the host plant. Encapsulation response was not associated with the resistance to the pathogen, suggesting that the host plant affected the pathogen rather than the immune system of the insect. Interestingly, the host plant supporting better larval growth led to inferior resistance to the pathogen, indicating a trade-off between different aspects of host plant quality.


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Pathogen resistance in the moth Orgyia antiqua: direct influence of host plant dominates over the effects of individual condition

  • S.-L. Sandre (a1), T. Tammaru (a1) and H.M.T. Hokkanen (a2)


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