Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 221–232

Induction of Plant Synomones by Oviposition of a Phytophagous Insect

  • Torsten Meiners
  • Monika Hilker

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005453830961

Cite this article as:
Meiners, T. & Hilker, M. J Chem Ecol (2000) 26: 221. doi:10.1023/A:1005453830961


Earlier investigations of host habitat location in the egg parasitoid Oomyzus gallerucae have shown that oviposition of the elm leaf beetle (Xanthogaleruca luteola) induces the field elm (Ulmus minor) to emit volatiles that attract the egg parasitoid. In this study we investigated the mechanism of this induction by testing the effects of differently treated elm leaves on O. gallerucae in a four-arm olfactometer. First we investigated which sequence of the herbivore oviposition behavior is necessary for the synomone induction. The following major sequences were observed: (1) Prior oviposition, the gravid female gnawed shallow grooves into the leaf surface. (2) After gnawing upon the leaf surface, the female attached about 20–30 eggs with oviduct secretion in the grooves. We experimentally mimicked the shallow grooves on the leaf surface by scratching the leaf surface with a scalpel (= scratched leaves). Volatiles from such scratched leaves did not attract the egg parasitoid. However, as soon as eggs with oviduct secretion, or only oviduct secretion, was applied to these scratched leaves, they emitted attractive volatiles. Application of oviduct secretion and eggs on undamaged leaves did not elicit release of attractive synomones. Thus, an elicitor is located in the oviduct secretion, but becomes active only when the leaf surface is damaged. Jasmonic acid is known as a mediator of plant responses induced by feeding of herbivorous arthropods, and we demonstrate that it mediates production of elm synomones that attract O. gallerucae. The plant's reaction to oviposition was systemic, and leaves without eggs near leaves with eggs emitted attractants.

Egg parasitoidstritrophic level interactionssynomonesplant defensesystemic inductionovipositionjasmonic acidUlmus minorelm leaf beetleOomyzus gallerucae

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Torsten Meiners
    • 1
  • Monika Hilker
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für ZoologieFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany