Temperature-dependent, behavioural, and transcriptional variability of a tritrophic interaction consisting of bean, herbivorous mite, and predator


Correspondence: Gen-ichiro Arimura, Fax: +81 77 549 8258; E-mail: garimura@ecology.kyoto-u.ac.jp


Different organisms compensate for, and adapt to, environmental changes in different ways. In this way, environmental changes affect animal–plant interactions. In this study, we assessed the effect of temperature on a tritrophic system of the lima bean, the herbivorous spider mite Tetranychus urticae and the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis. In this system, the plant defends itself against T. urticae by emitting volatiles that attract P. persimilis. Over 20–40 °C, the emission of volatiles by infested plants and the subsequent attraction of P. persimilis peaked at 30 °C, but the number of eggs laid by T. urticae adults and the number of eggs consumed by P. persimilis peaked at 35 °C. This indicates that the spider mites and predatory mites performed best at a higher temperature than that at which most volatile attractants were produced. Our data from transcriptome pyrosequencing of the mites found that Ppersimilis up-regulated gene families for heat shock proteins (HSPs) and ubiquitin-associated proteins, whereas T. urticae did not. RNA interference-mediated gene suppression in P. persimilis revealed differences in temperature responses. Predation on T. urticae eggs by P. persimilis that had been fed PpHsp70-1 dsRNA was low at 35 °C but not at 25 °C when PpHsp70-1 expression was very high. Overall, our molecular and behavioural approaches revealed that the mode and tolerance of lima bean, T. urticae and P. persimilis are distinctly affected by temperature variability, thereby making their tritrophic interactions temperature dependent.