The Effects of Enriched Carbon Dioxide Atmospheres on Plant—Insect Herbivore Interactions

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Science  03 Mar 1989:
Vol. 243, Issue 4895, pp. 1198-1200
DOI: 10.1126/science.243.4895.1198


Little is known about the effects of enriched CO2 atmospheres, which may exist in the next century, on natural plant—insect herbivore interactions. Larvae of a specialist insect herbivore, Junonia coenia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), were reared on one of its host plants, Plantago lanceolata (Plantaginaceae), grown in either current low (350 parts per million) or high (700 ppm) CO2 environments. Those larvae raised on high-CO2 foliage grew more slowly and experienced greater mortality, especially in early instars, than those raised on low-CO2 foliage. Poor larval performance on high-CO2 foliage was probably due to the reduced foliar water and nitrogen concentrations of those plants and not to changes in the concentration of the defensive compounds, iridoid glycosides. Adult pupal weight and female fecundity were not affected by the CO2 environment of the host plant. These results indicate that interactions between plants and herbivorous insects will be modified under the predicted CO2 conditions of the 21st century.

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