Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 11, pp 2215–2230

Identification of Volatiles That Are Used in Discrimination Between Plants Infested with Prey or Nonprey Herbivores by a Predatory Mite


  • Jetske G. De Boer
    • Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen University
  • Maarten A. Posthumus
    • Laboratory of Organic ChemistryWageningen University
  • Marcel Dicke
    • Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen University

DOI: 10.1023/B:JOEC.0000048784.79031.5e

Cite this article as:
De Boer, J.G., Posthumus, M.A. & Dicke, M. J Chem Ecol (2004) 30: 2215. doi:10.1023/B:JOEC.0000048784.79031.5e


Carnivorous arthropods can use herbivore-induced plant volatiles to locate their herbivorous prey. In the field, carnivores are confronted with information from plants infested with herbivores that may differ in their suitability as prey. Discrimination by the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis between volatiles from lima bean plants infested with the prey herbivore Tetranychus urticae, or plants infested with the nonprey caterpillar Spodoptera exigua, depends on spider mite density. In this article, we analyzed the chemical composition of the volatile blends from T. urticae-infested lima bean plants at different densities of spider mites, and from S. exigua-infested plants. Based on the behavioral preferences of P. persimilis and the volatile profiles, we selected compounds that potentially enable the mite to discriminate between T. urticae-induced and S. exigua-induced volatiles. Subsequently, we demonstrated in Y-tube olfactometer assays that the relatively large amounts of methyl salicylate and (3E, 7E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene emitted by T. urticae-infested bean plants compared to S. exigua-infested plants enable the predators to discriminate. Our data show that specific compounds from complex herbivore-induced volatile blends can play an important role in the selective foraging behavior of natural enemies of herbivorous arthropods.

Tritrophic interactionsfood websherbivore-induced plant volatilesterpenesmethyl salicylateindirect plant defensespider mitesPhytoseiulus persimilis

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004