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The effect of an insect herbivore and a rust fungus individually, and combined in sequence, on the growth of two Rumex species.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date1994
JournalNew Phytologist
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish


The chrysomelid beetle Gastrophysa viridula and the rust fungus Urmnyces rumicis both occur on leaves of Rumex crispus and R. obtusifolius. We investigated the effect of beetle grazing or rust infection individually and when combined in sequence on the growth of their hosts in the field. Singly, beetle or rust reduced leaf area and plant biomass; the effect was greater on R. crispus, and rust caused greater damage than the beetle. Beetle grazing with subsequent rust infection caused damage no greater than that caused by rust alone, although on R. obtusifolius damage was greater than that from beetle grazing alone. Rust infection of R. obtusifolius with subsequent beetle grazing produced damage similar to that from other treatments; involving rust infection. In R. crispus this treatment produced the greatest reduction in biomass, The reductions in root and total plant weight from rust infection with subsequent beetle grazing were accurately predicted by a model including the damage produced by beetle and rust alone and the length of time each was present on the plant. This model also predicted accurately the damage to R. obtusifolius from the beetle followed by rust treatment, but over-estimated by up to 40% the damage to R. crispus. This can be explained mainly by an inhibition of rust infection by beetle grazing.