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Keywords:

  • Adelgids;
  • gall induction;
  • galler performance;
  • host plant amelioration;
  • induced plant responses;
  • insect–plant interactions

Abstract We report that a chemical stimulus from a herbivore, a galling insect, changes plant morphology and physiology to benefit the herbivore. Previous studies could not determine whether insect galls are induced by mechanical or chemical stimuli because feeding and oviposition both occurred at the site of gall formation. We report that the mouthparts of a spruce-galling insect, Adelges cooleyi, were inserted in stem phloem cells far from induced galls, that tissues between mouthparts and galls appeared normal, and that the ability to initiate galls was inversely correlated with distance from buds (potential gall sites). Thus the effects of chemical stimuli were unambiguously separated from any mechanical influence of probing stylets or ovipositors. Our results strongly suggest that galls were induced by a chemical stimulus transported to buds via vascular tissue and that its efficacy was dose-dependent.