Browsing by Subject "Community interactions"

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  • Amin, Md. Tarique (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    Plants interact with mutualists and antagonists both below- and aboveground. However, while we know much about the distribution of plants and their aboveground attackers, we lack a thorough understanding of the distribution of the belowground biota. Importantly, recent research shows that the below- and aboveground biota can interact, and there are numerous factors both belowground and aboveground that are involved in these interactions. It is difficult to assess these dynamic interactions that occur within complex communities and which may affect and alter community structure both belowground and aboveground. Here, I set out to investigate these ecological interactions within a plant-mycorrhiza-insect system. I concentrated exclusively on the role of mycorrhizae as the belowground player. I used the larvae of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia) as an aboveground herbivore. I measured the performance of the herbaceous plant (Plantago lanceolata) and the insect larvae to make inference on the plant response and plant-mediated interactions. My results showed that the growth of the experimental plant, P. lanceolata, was, on average, not directly affected by mycorrhizal treatment. Instead, plant-lines responded differently to the impact of mycorrhizal inoculation. This outcome possibly suggests that plant genotypes coming from different populations are interacting differently (in terms of plant growth) to the mycorrhizal treatment. Similarly, aboveground larvae feeding on the same host plant also responded differently to the impact of mycorrhizal inoculation. Larval performance in terms of growth and days to diapause significantly differed between larval families. It may suggest that these features of larval performance might depend more on their family background compared to the type of host plants (with or without mycorrhizae) they are feeding on. Overall, my findings suggest that mycorrhizal fungi affect the performance of the plant and the insects that feed upon the plant, but that genetic variation exists among both plants and larvae in how they are affected by mycorrhizal infection.