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Taste receptor activity and feeding behaviour reveal mechanisms of white spruce natural resistance to Eastern spruce budworm Choristoneura fumiferana


Emma Despland, Biology Department, Concordia University, 7141 Sherbrooke West, Montreal H4B 1R6, Canada. Tel.: 514 848-2424 ext 3426; e-mail:


The pattern of feeding of Eastern spruce budworm Choristoneura fumiferana (Clem.) (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae) is compared on foliage from white spruce Picea glauca (Moench) Voss. (Pinaceae) trees previously determined to be susceptible and resistant to defoliation by budworm. No differences are observed in electrophysiological responses from taste sensilla to aqueous extracts of the two foliage types, nor is there a preference for either extract type in a choice test. Acetone extracts from the two foliage types are both preferred to a control sucrose solution, although neither elicits a preference relative to the other. These results suggest that there is no difference in phagostimulatory power of internal leaf contents of the two foliage types. Longer-term observation of feeding behaviour in a no-choice situation shows no difference in meal duration, confirming the lack of difference in phagostimulatory power. However, on average, intermeal intervals are twice as long on the resistant foliage, leading to an overall lower food consumption during the assay. This result suggests an anti-digestive or toxic effect of the resistant foliage that slows behaviour and limits food intake. Previous research has shown that waxes of the resistant foliage deter initiation of feeding by the spruce budworm and that this foliage contains higher levels of tannins and monoterpenes. The data suggest that the resistant foliage contains a post-ingestive second line of defence against the spruce budworm.