Abstract

Galls are structures produced by plants in response to the activity of several types of organisms. Gall-inducing species have a close relationship with their host plant, as their habitat is largely restricted to the gall and the plant organ in which it develops. All plant organs are susceptible to gall induction by insects, the leaves being the most vulnerable. Knowledge about interactions between gall-inducing insects and plants is fragmented and incomplete in Argentina. In this study, we completed an inventory of galls induced by insects on plants in Córdoba (central Argentina) using information from field surveys and a review of the literature. We also focused on the frequency of plant-insect taxonomic associations and plant organs most commonly attacked by gall-inducing insects. Field surveys were performed systematically in 26 sites of Chaco Serrano, which were visited five times in two consecutive years, and in17 sites of the province, which were sampled one or two times each. A comprehensive literature search of electronic and conventional databases was also conducted to complete the inventory. A total of 99 gall morphospecies on 58 plant species (21 families and 44 genera) were recorded through both field surveys and a literature review, enlarging the list of species available for the region by almost 50 %. Asteraceae and Fabaceae were the plant families most attacked by galling insects, in partial concordance with the most species-rich plant families in the region. Diptera, particularly the family Cecidomyiidae, was the most species-rich group in the community of galling insects, which is in agreement with different studies across the globe. Baccharis was the genus displaying the highest number of gall morphotypes, followed by Acacia, Condalia, Geoffroea, Prosopis and Schinus. Almost 60 % of the morphotypes were stem galls, a pattern uncommon in the literature. Fusiform and globoid-shaped galls were predominant. Our study highlights the scarce knowledge there is about the interactions between plants and gall-inducing insects in Argentina, particularly those involving species of Cecidomyiidae, with more than 30 undescribed species. Possible mechanisms involved in the predominance of stem galls in central Argentina are discussed.