Tomato Plant Hairs Affect Pests and Their Predators

Jenn Hoskins
15th May, 2024

Tomato Plant Hairs Affect Pests and Their Predators

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study examined the impact of different trichome types on spider mite behavior on six tomato cultivars and two wild Solanum species
  • Trichome types I and IV on the petiole significantly affected mite settlement and dispersal, while types V and VI did not
  • The predatory mite T. (A.) recki effectively controlled spider mite populations regardless of trichome structure, suggesting its potential as a biological control agent
Trichomes, the tiny hair-like structures on plants, are known to play a crucial role in defending against arthropod herbivores. A recent study by INRAE aimed to evaluate the impact of different trichome types on the development, survival, and dispersal of the spider mite Tetranychus urticae and its predatory mite Typhlodromus (Anthoseius) recki[1]. This study examined six Solanum lycopersicum cultivars and two wild Solanum species, S. cheesmaniae and S. peruvianum, which varied in trichome densities and types. The study characterized the plants by counting each trichome type on their leaves, petioles, and stems. Three weeks after infesting the plants with T. urticae, researchers counted the mites stuck on the petiole and stem, as well as the live mites on the leaflet used for mite release and on the whole plant. The results showed that trichome types I and IV on the petiole had the most significant impact on mite settlement and dispersal, whereas trichome types V and VI did not have a noticeable effect. Trichomes on leaves had a slight repellent effect on mite establishment, particularly types I and IV. Interestingly, the low densities of both T. urticae and its predator on the cv. Lancaster cultivar could not be clearly linked to the trichome types considered in this study. The predator T. (A.) recki did not seem to be affected by plant characteristics but was instead influenced by the number of T. urticae on the plant. The predator demonstrated high efficiency in controlling the pest across all plant genotypes at a favorable predator-to-prey ratio (1:1). These findings suggest that T. (A.) recki could be an effective biological control agent for T. urticae, regardless of the trichome structure of the tomato cultivars, although further conditions should be tested for practical implementation. This study builds on previous research that explored various aspects of trichome-based plant resistance. For instance, earlier work revealed that high acylsucrose content and high type-IV trichome density in wild tomato Solanum pimpinellifolium increased mortality and repellence while reducing oviposition of T. urticae[2]. The new study corroborates these findings by showing that specific trichome types can significantly impact mite behavior and survival. Moreover, the effectiveness of biological control agents like predatory mites has been demonstrated in earlier studies. For example, the predatory mite Transeius montdorensis was found to significantly reduce populations of the tomato russet mite (TRM) Aculops lycopersici, resulting in higher yields compared to conventional pesticide use[3]. The current study's findings align with this, showing that T. (A.) recki can effectively control T. urticae populations. Additionally, the accumulation of toxic compounds like 2-tridecanone in spider mites when foraging on cultivated tomato has been documented. This compound, found in the glandular trichomes of tomato plants, significantly impacts mite mortality[4]. Although the current study did not focus on specific chemical defenses, it highlights the importance of trichome types in influencing mite behavior and survival. In conclusion, the INRAE study provides valuable insights into the role of trichome types in managing T. urticae populations and supports the use of T. (A.) recki as a biological control agent. These findings, together with previous research, underscore the potential of integrating plant traits and biological control strategies to develop sustainable pest management practices in tomato cultivation.

AgricultureEcologyPlant Science


Main Study

1) Plant, pest and predator interplay: tomato trichomes effects on Tetranychus urticae (Koch) and the predatory mite Typhlodromus (Anthoseius) recki Wainstein.

Published 14th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Resistance to the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) by acylsucroses of wild tomato (Solanum pimpinellifolium) trichomes studied in a recombinant inbred line population.

3) Control of Aculops lycopersici with the Predatory Mite Transeius montdorensis.

4) Accumulation and turnover of 2-tridecanone in Tetranychus urticae and its consequences for resistance of wild and cultivated tomatoes.

Journal: Experimental & applied acarology, Issue: Vol 23, Issue 12, Dec 1999

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