Effects of Drought-Stress on Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and Host-Plant Resistance to Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella Occidentalis Pergande)
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Herbivory by Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande) (WFT) and drought-stress due to limited water availability are currently two major factors that can severely impact cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) production. This dissertation examines the effects of drought-stress on cotton and host-plant resistance (HPR) to WFT in laboratory conditions, and seeks to identify the physiological and morphological mechanisms that underlie drought-tolerance and HPR. A life-history systems-approach was developed that provides a new level of detail for understanding how environmental variation impacts adult female WFT. The approach was illustrated by investigating the combined effects of cotton genotype, periodic drought-stress, and prey availability on the adult female omnivorous thrips using a factorial design. Three treatment conditions were significantly different, none of which were predicted based on prevailing ecological-hypotheses. At the same time, the approach produced three novel insights about WFT life-history and reproductive strategy. The roles of negative photo-taxis and leaf biomechanical properties were investigated as potential mechanisms that influence WFT foraging-decisions on individual cotyledons. Results showed that WFT foraging-decisions could be considered adaptive, but there was limited support for either of the mechanisms investigated. The physiological responses to drought stress and drought recovery were investigated for three transgenic cotton cultivars and an untransformed wild-type (WT). At peak drought, ABA levels, stomatal area, and stomatal apertures in the transgenic isolone, AtRAV1-1 were 48% lower, 27.7%, and 16.3% smaller than WT. These results suggest that AtRAV1-1 was the most drought-tolerant and support the hypothesis that changes in stomatal morphology may have functionally contributed to drought-tolerance. Lastly, I investigated whether changes in phytohormone concentrations associated with periodic-drought stress in four cotton cultivars (three transgenic and WT) were correlated with WFT feeding, fitness and state-dependent reproductive responses (i.e., the relationship between initial weight and reproduction). Results showed that JA-Ile and JA were positively correlated with state-dependent egg viability and fecundity, respectively, and negatively correlated with total egg viability and fecundity, respectively, supporting the hypothesis that JA and JA-Ile underlie the negative effects on WFT reproduction and the associated shift to state-dependent reproduction.
plant-insect evolutionary ecology
Fiene, Justin G. 1983- (2012). Effects of Drought-Stress on Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and Host-Plant Resistance to Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella Occidentalis Pergande). Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from