Lack of adaptation to a new host in a generalist herbivore: Implications for host plant resistance to twospotted spider mites in cotton Academic Article uri icon


  • The twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae Koch) is an important pest of cotton. This pest has a broad host range, but when changing between hosts an initial decline in fitness often occurs. This is usually followed by an increase in fitness after rapid adaptation to the new host, usually within five generations.The generality of this adaptive response was tested by assessing elements of fitness when mites were reared on a host to which they were adapted (Gossypium hirsutum L. cv. Sicot 71) or on a new host, Gossypium arboreum L. (accession BM13H). In a first experiment, mites reared on the new host for ten generations showed declining immature survival compared with those reared on the adapted host. In a second experiment, the intrinsic capacity for increase of mites cultured on the new host for six generations was significantly lower than that of mites cultured on the adapted host for six generations and then transferred to the new host. Hence, exposure to the new host for six or ten generations resulted in declining fitness.This 'negative adaptation' indicates robust antibiosis traits in G. arboreum accession BM13H, which therefore have value in developing mite-resistant G. hirsutum cultivars.

publication date

  • 2015