Research report 2021 - Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
A tripartite relationship between trees, herbivorous insects and fungi
SummaryBlack poplar leaves are particularly susceptible to be attacked by gypsy moths if they are also infected by a fungus. Actually, young larvae of the gypsy moth that feed on leaves covered with fungal spores gain biomass much faster and pupate several days earlier than larvae that feed only on leaf tissue. The reason for this is probably that fungal spores improve the supply of nutrients in the caterpillars’ diet. Thus, some herbivores may be in fact also fungivores. Fungi and microorganisms probably play a more important role in the coevolution of plants and herbivores than previously thought.