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Importance of protein quality versus quantity in alternative host plants for a leaf-feeding insect.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23297046     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
The nutritional value of alternative host plants for leaf-feeding insects such as caterpillars is commonly measured in terms of protein quantity. However, nutritional value might also depend on the quality of the foliar protein [i.e., the composition of essential amino acids (EAAs)]. A lack of comparative work on the EAA compositions of herbivores and their host plants has hampered the testing of this hypothesis. We tested the "protein quality hypothesis" using the tree-feeding caterpillars of Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth) and two taxonomically unrelated host plants, red oak (Quercus rubra) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Because L. dispar has higher fitness on oak than on maple, support for the hypothesis would be found if protein were of higher quality from oak than from maple. The whole-body EAA composition of L. dispar larvae was measured to estimate its optimum dietary protein composition, which was compared with the EAA compositions of oak and maple leaves. Contrary to the protein quality hypothesis, the EAA compositions of oak and maple were not significantly different in the spring. The growth-limiting EAAs in both tree species were histidine and methionine. Similar results were observed in the summer, with the exception that the histidine composition of oak was between 10 and 15 % greater than in maple leaves. The two main factors that affected the nutritional value of protein from the tree species were the quantities of EAAs, which were consistently higher in oak, and the efficiency of EAA utilization, which decreased from 80 % in May to <50 % in August. We conclude that the relative nutritional value of red oak and sugar maple for L. dispar is more strongly affected by protein quantity than quality. Surveys of many wild herbaceous species also suggest that leaf-feeding insects would be unlikely to specialize on plants based on protein quality.
Raymond V Barbehenn; Julie Niewiadomski; Joseph Kochmanski
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2013-1-8
Journal Detail:
Title:  Oecologia     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1432-1939     ISO Abbreviation:  Oecologia     Publication Date:  2013 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-1-8     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0150372     Medline TA:  Oecologia     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109-1048, USA,
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