, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 150-160,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 20 Jan 2011

Variation in Herbivory-induced Volatiles Among Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) Varieties has Consequences for the Attraction of Carnivorous Natural Enemies


In response to herbivory by arthropods, plants emit herbivory-induced volatiles that attract carnivorous enemies of the inducing herbivores. Here, we compared the attractiveness of eight cucumber varieties (Cucumis sativus L.) to Phytoseiulus persimilis predatory mites after infestation of the plants with herbivorous spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) under greenhouse conditions. Attractiveness differed considerably, with the most attractive variety attracting twice as many predators as the least attractive variety. Chemical analysis of the volatiles released by the infested plants revealed significant differences among varieties, both in quantity and quality of the emitted blends. Comparison of the attractiveness of the varieties with the amounts of volatiles emitted indicated that the quality (composition) of the blend is more important for attraction than the amount of volatiles emitted. The amount of (E)-β-ocimene, (E,E)-TMTT, and two other, yet unidentified compounds correlated positively with the attraction of predatory mites. Quantities of four compounds negatively correlated with carnivore attraction, among them methyl salicylate, which is known to attract the predatory mite P. persimilis. The emission of methyl salicylate correlated with an unknown compound that had a negative correlation with carnivore attraction and hence could be masking the attractiveness of methyl salicylate. The results imply that the foraging success of natural enemies of pests can be enhanced by breeding for crop varieties that release specific volatiles.