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Insects and rapeseed plants Barnabe, Susan K.


Rapeseed is grown from two closely related species of Brassica in many varieties. The behaviour of seven insects was studied to determine their responses to low erucic acid rapeseed, represented by a typical and a Canola variety of each species. The Canola varieties have a lower gluco-sinolate concentration in the seed coat than typical varieties. The insects were chosen because they were oligophagous or polyphagous. The actions of adults of two species of moths, Mamestra configurata Walker and Plutella maculipennis (Curtis), were studied by using an olfactometer; four species of aphids, Myzus persicae Sulzer, Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Ashmead), Brevicoryne brassicae (Linnaeus), and Acrythosiphon pisum (Harris), were studied when the adults were placed at the base of each type of plant. The insects responded in accordance with their normal associations with cruciferous plants as hosts. Their responses were not materially affected by genetic differences among the four varieties, even though these included distinct morphological and biochemical differences. Behavioural differences towards plant species were observed in the polyphagous aphids, which affected their distribution on the plants. These differences were not associated with varieties or glucosinolate contents. These results indicated that the differences between the two rapeseed species and typical and Canola varieties would neither materially affect the responses of attacking insects nor the resistance of the plants to insect attack in the field.

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