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 BoerAffiliated withLaboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University
  • , Maarten A. PosthumusAffiliated withLaboratory of Organic Chemistry, Wageningen University
  • , Marcel DickeAffiliated withLaboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University

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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 interactions food webs herbivore-induced plant volatiles terpenes methyl salicylate indirect plant defense spider mites Phytoseiulus persimilis