Climate Change Effects On Agricultural Pests: The Response of Liriomyza Huidobrensis to Drought-Stressed Potato Plants
Climate change is predicted to bring about major changes in pest and disease incidence, resulting from the effects of global warming and changes in rainfall patterns. While increasing temperatures are expected to influence growth and development, and duration of pest life cycles, changes in precipitation, relative humidity and availability of water can have an effect on pest-host relationships.
This study reports the results of one such study conducted in Mauritius and
UK, on an important insect pest, Liriomyza huidobrensis, attacking major
crops such as potato, beans, onion, egg plant, etc. in Mauritius.
Drought stress changed the response of L. huidobrensis adults to its potato host. In olfactometer studies, the insects exhibited distinct preference for greener and more succulent potato leaves, irrespective of their intraplant distribution, as opposed to the normal preference of adults to the older leaves of the lower canopy. This was inspite of the fact that biochemical studies of drought stressed and non stressed potato plants showed that the drought stressed plants had a better nutritional profile for the insect larvae than the non-stressed ones.
On the other hand, metabolomic studies correlated the changed host
preference demonstrated by the pest to variations in the metabolite profiles
of drought stressed and non-stressed plants, which indicates that adult host
preference is not always positively related to offspring performance.
Keywords: Metabolomics, nutrient levels, insect behaviour, host preference, host