Phenotypic plasticity in chemical defence allows butterflies to diversify host use strategies

Erika De Castro, Jamie Musgrove, Søren Bak, Owen McMillan & Chris Jiggins
Hostplant specialization is a major force driving ecological niche partitioning and diversification in insect herbivores. The cyanogenic defences of Passiflora plants keeps most herbivores at bay, but not larvae of Heliconius butterflies, which can both sequester and biosynthesize cyanogenic compounds. Here, we demonstrate that both Heliconius cydno chioneus, a host plant generalist, and H. melpomene rosina, a specialist, have remarkable plasticity in their chemical defence. When feeding on Passiflora species with cyanogenic compounds they can...
1 citation reported since publication in 2020.
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