Various physical and chemical properties of host plants influence insect larval performance and subsequent adult fitness. Tomato plants are relatively new hosts to the potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller), with the fruit being its preferred feeding site. However, it is unclear how the biochemical and physical properties of tomato fruits relate to potato tuber moth performance. Significant amounts of α-tomatine were detected in maturing green and ripening fruits of cherry (cv. Ceres) and processing (cv. Serio) types of tomatoes whereas none was detected in a fresh market variety (cv. Marglobe), at comparable stages. α-Tomatine is negatively and significantly correlated with development rate (head capsule size) of larvae reared in the fruits of the cherry and processing type tomatoes. Generally, survival, growth and development were significantly superior for larvae reared in the ripening fruits of the fresh market cultivar. At this stage, the fruits of this cultivar are also the largest. Based on these results it is concluded that fruit α-tomatine content, as well as fruit size and maturity, all affect performance of P. operculella larvae in the fruits of cultivated tomatoes.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank D. Nigatu for his assistance in the field work. The research was supported by a grant from the USAID-CDR programme (TA-MOU-95 C14-126) to MC and SWA.
- Insect-plant interactions
- Phthorimaea operculella
- Potato tuber moth
- Secondary plant compounds