Feeding on above- and belowground plant tissues by Tipula paludosa Meigen during the period of rapid growth from second to forth instars is highly damaging to cool-season (C3) turfgrasses. It may be possible to reduce this damage by identifying grass genotypes that increase host plant protection. This study examined the impacts of plant genotype, endophyte infection, and plant ontogeny on host plant and insect responses during whole-plant feeding by T. paludosa. A series of no-choice greenhouse trials were conducted with third instar crane flies to determine 1) host plant tolerance in terms of reductions to above- and belowground plant biomass, 2) antixenosis resistance impacting insect behavior (emigration), and 3) antibiosis resistance impacting insect growth. Results showed that insect infestation level was the primary factor influencing plant biomass reductions. Belowground tissues were more tolerant to feeding than were aboveground tissues, with tall fescues, Festuca arundinacea Schreber, being most resistant to aboveground biomass reduction. Host plant associations with intercellular fungal endophytes (E ) decreased insect weight gain and decreased insect movement, but did not increase host plant tolerance. Plant ontogeny affected this response with insect weight gain significantly decreased on young (28 d) growth E grasses but not on old (90 d) growth E grasses, however. Host plant genotype and plant ontogeny can have significant impacts to host plant tolerance and insect physiology for T. paludosa larva. Furthermore, plant-endophyte associations have apparent sublethal effects that impact insect fitness and may further enhance host plant protection.
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Vol. 106 • No. 3