Genetic Variation and Relationships of Constitutive and Herbivore-Induced Glucosinolates, Trypsin Inhibitors, and Herbivore Resistance in Brassica rapa

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We examined genetic variation in inducibility and in constitutive and herbivore-induced levels of glucosinolates, trypsin inhibitors, and resistance to herbivory in families of Brassica rapaoriginating from a wild population. We also examined phenotypic and genetic correlations among absolute levels of these traits in control and induced plants. We grew seedlings of 10 half-sib families in pairs in pots, and exposed one plant per pair to folivory by Trichoplusia nilarvae. Two days later, we sampled all plants for total glucosinolate and trypsin inhibitor levels and examined the preference and consumption by T. ni larvae of previously damaged (induced) and undamaged (control) plants. There was no significant variation among sire families in the induction of glucosinolates or trypsin inhibitors by T. ni feeding. Total glucosinolate levels in either control or induced plants did not vary by family. In contrast, trypsin inhibitor levels in both control and induced plants varied significantly by family. Trichoplusia ni fed less on induced plants than on control plants in the bioassay, but neither the induction of resistance by prior T. ni feeding nor absolute levels of damage done to control and induced plants varied significantly by sire family. Temporal blocking strongly affected trypsin inhibitor levels and the response of some families in the bioassays. There were no significant phenotypic or genetic correlations of levels of glucosinolates or trypsin inhibitors with each other or with damage in either control or induced plants. Overall, these results suggest that in the B. rapa population that we studied, both total glucosinolate content and biological resistance to herbivory by T. niwas nonvariable and almost universally inducible by prior T. ni feeding. In contrast, control and induced levels of trypsin inhibitors varied genetically and have the capacity to respond to future selection imposed by herbivores. However, the role of these defenses in constitutive or induced resistance to T. ni in this species remains unclear.



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