Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp 931-944

First online:

6-Methoxy-2-benzoxazolinone: A semiochemical for host location by western corn rootworm larvae

  • Louis B. BjostadAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Colorado State University
  • , Bruce E. HibbardAffiliated withDepartment of Entomology, Colorado State University

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A bioassay-driven sequential fractionation scheme was used to isolate all portions of a crude dichloromethane corn seedling extract behaviorally active to larvae of the western corn rootworm,Diabrotica virgifera virgifera LeConte. 6-Methoxy-2-benzoxazolinone (MBOA) was identified as one of the most important components of an attractive crude corn extract. MBOA was found on or in the intact root tissues by injecting an extract of undamaged roots onto an HPLC immediately after extraction. MBOA was demonstrated to be volatile and functions as a semiochemical in conjunction with carbon dioxide in host location by western corn rootworm larvae, which are oligophagous on the roots of maize and several other species of grasses. Because MBOA occurs almost exclusively in maize and other grasses, it offers a simple way for the larvae to distinguish possible hosts from non-hosts. MBOA has previously been reported as a chemical defense against other insect species. This is the first report in grasses of a secondary compound that is toxic or a deterrent to nonadapted insect herbivores but that is used as a semiochemical in host location by a specialist insect species.

Key Words

Diabrotica virgifera virgifera 6-methoxy-2-benzoxazolinone hydroxamic acids semiochemical attractants western corn rootworm host location Coleoptera Chrysomelidae Zea mays kairomone