For millions of years plants are trying to avoid consumption while herbivores are trying to optimize food exploitation. Plants nutritional values have a major effect on herbivores’ fitness. Herbivores must also cope with plants secondary metabolites, which are used for defense and their production depends largely on the nutrients available to the plants.
In agro-ecological systems this understanding is important when trying to control pest populations. In our research we focused on two macronutrients: Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K). Our general hypothesis was that high levels of N will positively affect pests while high levels of K will negatively affect pests.
We tested our hypothesis in a tomato and bean system looking at fitness of 3 pests feeding on different plant tissues. The results support our hypothesis that both nutrients can affect pests depending on the feeding tissue and plant family.