Domestication of Plants of Ugni molinae Turcz (Myrtaceae) Interferes in the Biology of Chilesia rudis (Lepidoptera: Erebidae) Larvae

In terms of the domestication process in murtilla, studies have found changes in the concentration of phenolic compounds, with reduction of chemical defense of plants, depending on the change in the feeding behavior of insects. Thus, we hypothesized that the domestication of Ugni molinae decreases the content of phenolic compounds and modifies the feeding preference of Chilesia rudis larvae. Leaves of three parental ecotypes and four cultivated ecotypes were used in preference experiments to evaluate the mass gain and leaves consumption of larvae. Phenolic extracts from leaves of U. molinae were analyzed by HPLC. Identified compounds were incorporated in an artificial diet to assess their effect on mass gain, consumption, and survival of the larvae. The presence of phenolic compounds in bodies and feces was also evaluated. In terms of choice assays, larvae preferred parental ecotypes. Regarding compounds, vanillin was the most varied between the ecotypes in leaves. However, plant domestication did not show a reduction in phenolic compound concentration of the ecotypes studied. Furthermore, there was no clear relation between phenolic compounds and the performance of C. rudis larvae. Whether this was because of sequestration of some compounds by larvae is unknown. Finally, results of this study could also suggest that studied phenolic compounds have no role in the C. rudis larvae resistance in this stage of murtilla domestication process.

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