, Volume 179, Issue 1, pp 163–174 | Cite as

Attraction of egg-killing parasitoids toward induced plant volatiles in a multi-herbivore context

  • Antonino CusumanoEmail author
  • Berhane T. Weldegergis
  • Stefano Colazza
  • Marcel Dicke
  • Nina E. Fatouros
Plant-microbe-animal interactions – original research


In response to insect herbivory, plants emit volatile organic compounds which may act as indirect plant defenses by attracting natural enemies of the attacking herbivore. In nature, plants are often attacked by multiple herbivores, but the majority of studies which have investigated indirect plant defenses to date have focused on the recruitment of different parasitoid species in a single-herbivore context. Here, we report our investigation on the attraction of egg parasitoids of lepidopteran hosts (Trichogramma brassicae and T. evanescens) toward plant volatiles induced by different insect herbivores in olfactometer bioassays. We used a system consisting of a native crucifer, Brassica nigra, two naturally associated herbivores [the butterfly Pieris brassicae (eggs and caterpillars) and the aphid Brevicoryne brassicae] and an alien invasive herbivore (eggs and caterpillars of the moth Spodoptera exigua). We found that Trichogramma wasps were attracted by volatiles induced in the plants by P. brassicae eggs, but not by those induced in the plants by S. exigua eggs, indicating the specificity of the plant responses toward lepidopteran herbivores. The results of the chemical analysis revealed significant differences between the volatile blends emitted by plants in response to attack by P. brassicae and S. exigua eggs which were in agreement with the behavioural observations. We investigated the attraction of Trichogramma wasps toward P. brassicae egg-induced volatiles in plants simultaneously attacked by larvae and nymphs of different non-hosts. The two chewing caterpillars P. brassicae and S. exigua, but not the phloem-feeding aphid B. brassicae, can disrupt the attraction of Trichogramma species toward P. brassicae egg-induced volatiles. Indirect plant defenses are discussed in the context of multiple herbivory by evaluating the importance of origin, dietary specialization and feeding guild of different attackers on the recruitment of egg-killing parasitoids.


OIPVs HIPVs Multitrophic interactions Parasitoid foraging behaviour Indirect plant defences 



The authors thank Andre Gidding, Joop Woelke and Frans van Aggelen for culturing insects and the experimental farm of Wageningen University (Unifarm) for rearing plants. This work, as part of the European Science Foundation EUROCORES Programme EuroVOL, was supported from funds by the Earth and Life Sciences Council of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO/ALW Veni grant 863.09.002 to N.E.F.), by the National Research Council of Italy and by the German Research Foundation (CRC973).

Supplementary material

442_2015_3325_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (179 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 172 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonino Cusumano
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Berhane T. Weldegergis
    • 1
  • Stefano Colazza
    • 2
  • Marcel Dicke
    • 1
  • Nina E. Fatouros
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie e ForestaliUniversità degli Studi di PalermoPalermoItaly
  3. 3.Institute of Biology Dahlem Centre of Plant SciencesFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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