Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 7, pp 1589–1600

Volatiles from Whitefly-Infested Plants Elicit a Host-Locating Response in the Parasitoid, Encarsia formosa


  • M. A. Birkett
    • Biological and Ecological Chemistry DepartmentIACR-Rothamsted
  • K. Chamberlain
    • Biological and Ecological Chemistry DepartmentIACR-Rothamsted
  • E. Guerrieri
    • Centro CNR Tecniche di Lotta BiologicaVia Universita
    • Biological and Ecological Chemistry DepartmentIACR-Rothamsted
  • L. J. Wadhams
    • Biological and Ecological Chemistry DepartmentIACR-Rothamsted
  • T. Yasuda
    • Department of Insect Physiology and BehaviourNational Institute of Sericultural and Entomological Science

DOI: 10.1023/A:1024218729423

Cite this article as:
Birkett, M.A., Chamberlain, K., Guerrieri, E. et al. J Chem Ecol (2003) 29: 1589. doi:10.1023/A:1024218729423


The blend of volatile compounds emitted by bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris) infested with greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum) has been studied comparatively with undamaged plants and whiteflies themselves. Collection of the volatiles and analysis by gas chromatography revealed more than 20 compounds produced by plants infested with whitefly. Of these, 4 compounds, (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, 4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, 3-octanone, and one unidentified compound were emitted at higher levels than from the undamaged control plants. Synthetic (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, 4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, or 3-octanone all elicited a significant increase in oriented flight and landing on the source by the parasitoid, Encarsia formosa, in wind tunnel bioassays. Two-component mixtures of the compounds and the three-component mixture all elicited a similar or, in most cases, a better response by the parasitoid, the most effective being a mixture of (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol and 3-octanone. These results demonstrate that E. formosa uses volatiles from the plant-host complex as olfactory cues for host location.

Trialeurodes vaporariorumEncarsia formosaPhaseolus vulgarishost locationplant volatileswind tunnelair entrainment

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© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003