The observed feeding preference of Cantareus aspersus (ex-Helix aspersa) (brown garden snail) between different plant species

Date

2012

Authors

Valdez, Jessica

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Abstract

Plants have developed many different mechanisms to defend themselves against natural enemies. Defense mechanisms can be structural and/or chemical and can be either inducible or constitutive. The phytohormone jasmonic acid plays an important role in the regulation of inducible plant defense responses in herbivory. The gastropod Cantareus aspersus (ex-Helix aspersa), or more commonly known as the brown garden snail, is a generalist herbivore and will consume almost any plant. Cantareus aspersus can cause excessive damage feeding on leaves, fruit and young tree bark and is a pest in California and Florida. The brown garden snail is not known to be deterred in feeding behavior by specific secondary metabolites, and currently the most effective pesticide used for snails contains an active an ingredient that is not permitted in US food crops. The biology of the snail has been studied, but not much is known as to their feeding preference with plants in their natural state. In this study we used Brassica oleracea var. italica (broccoli), Brassica rapa L. (chinese cabbage), Triticum aestivum L. (winter wheat), Medicago sativa L. (alfalfa) and Arabidopsis thaliana to determine the feeding preference of C. aspersus. More specifically, we used Arabidopsis thaliana ecotype Columbia (Col), Landsberg erecta (L er), Wassilewskija (Ws), Arabidopsis thaliana 12-oxophytodienoate reductase 3 (opr3) mutant (background Ws), the ethylene resistant (etr1 ) mutant (background Col), and transport inhibitor response (tir3) mutant (background Col). Observational and juvenile weight gain studies were performed with snails being given a choice between different plant species or types. Additionally, jasmonic acid (JA)-treated plants were tested against an untreated control of the same species. Observations of the feeding preference assays with C. aspersus determined that there was no difference in feeding preference when given a choice between JA-treated and control plants, possibly due to plants responding to neighboring plant volatiles. Observations of the feeding preference assays determined C. aspersus preferred alfalfa> chinese cabbage> broccoli= wheat possibly due to varying glucosinolates levels between these plants. Observations also determined that C. aspersus preferred to consume opr3> Ws> Ler> Col> etr1> tir3. However the weight gain studies indicated that there was no significant difference when compared with each respective wild-type, possibly due to small sampling size and the small number of trials. The combination of Arabidopsis thaliana and a juvenile weight study seems to be a good indicator for C. aspersus feeding preference. Further research is necessary to characterize what secondary metabolites and defense mechanisms snails find attractive or unattractive.

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Keywords

Arabidopsis thaliana, Brown Garden Snail, Feeding Preference, Glucosinolate, Jasmonic Acid, Plant Defense

Citation

Department

Earth and Environmental Science