Characterizing herbivore resistance mechanisms: spittlebugs on brachiaria spp. as an example
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Parsa S, Sotelo G, Cardona C. 2011. Characterizing herbivore resistance mechanisms: spittlebugs on brachiaria spp. as an example. Journal of Visualized Experiments (52): e3047.
Plants can resist herbivore damage through three broad mechanisms: antixenosis, antibiosis and tolerance. Antixenosis is the degree to which the plant is avoided when the herbivore is able to select other plants. Antibiosis is the degree to which the plant affects the fitness of the herbivore feeding on it.Tolerance is the degree to which the plant can withstand or repair damage caused by the herbivore, without compromising the herbivore's growth and reproduction. The durability of herbivore resistance in an agricultural setting depends to a great extent on the resistance mechanism favored during crop breeding efforts. We demonstrate a no-choice experiment designed to estimate the relative contributions of antibiosis and tolerance to spittlebug resistance in Brachiaria spp. Several species of African grasses of the genus Brachiaria are valuable forage and pasture plants in the Neotropics, but they can be severely challenged by several native species of spittlebugs (Hemiptera: Cercopidae).To assess their resistance to spittlebugs, plants are vegetatively-propagated by stem cuttings and allowed to grow for approximately one month, allowing the growth of superficial roots on which spittlebugs can feed. At that point, each test plant is individually challenged with six spittlebug eggs near hatching. Infestations are allowed to progress for one month before evaluating plant damage and insect survival. Scoring plant damage provides an estimate of tolerance while scoring insect survival provides an estimate of antibiosis. This protocol has facilitated our plant breeding objective to enhance spittlebug resistance in commercial brachiaria grasses.