Host plant specificity of herbivorous insects

Herbivorous insects are generally able to utilize a limited range of food plants The host plant specificity is an important ecological trait for herbivores, not only determining their food and habitat but also strongly affecting their biological interactions with other organisms associated with the same plants There are a number of topical research subjects related to the issue, such as adaptive mechanisms of insect biochemistry, physiology, and behavior; evaluating the adaptive potential of pest insects; evolution of ecological specialization, etc . (Futuyma and Peterson, 1985; Diehl and Bush, 1984). Even within the same insect species, remarkable variations in plant utilization have been frequently documented, wherein the ecologically and genetically distinct varieties are referred to as "biotype," "host race," or "ecotype," offering model systems for studies on speciation (Gould, 1983; Futuyma and Peterson, 1985; Via, 2001) .

Figure 6.1 Pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum, on a seedling of broad bean, Vicia faba.
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