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Do steviol glycosides provide ecological fitness to Stevia rebaudiana through impact on dietary preference of plant pests and herbivores?
journal contributionposted on 04.05.2020, 00:00 by RR Deguzman, David MidmoreDavid Midmore, Kerry WalshKerry Walsh
The impact of Stevia rebaudiana leaf on feeding preferences of an insect, a mite, and a mammal was investigated. The grasshopper, Valanga irregularis of the Acrididae family, avoided feeding on S. rebaudiana leaf, as evidenced by a decrease in animal weight. Increased mortality on S. rebaudiana feed was ascribed to feeding avoidance to the point of starvation. The extent of red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) damage was not proportional to leaf steviol glycoside (SG) concentration, a result ascribed to a feeding mechanism that avoids chlorenchyma cells that contain SGs. Guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) were presented with the choice between a control feed and feed amended to contain 5% sucrose or 0.02%, 4%, or 10% (dry weight) of S. rebaudiana leaf. Feed intake increased (39% above the control) for the diet involving high levels of SG amendment of feed (10% S. rebaudiana leaf). Encouragement of general mammalian herbivory may provide ecological fitness to S. rebaudiana if it is more tolerant of grazing pressure than other plants in its environment. Improvement in feed intake may have commercial implication for use of S. rebaudiana as an additive in stock feeds. © 2019 American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy.