Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 307–319 | Cite as

Disease Status and Population Origin Effects on Floral Scent: Potential Consequences for Oviposition and Fruit Predation in A Complex Interaction Between A Plant, Fungus, and Noctuid Moth

  • S. Dötterl
  • A. Jürgens
  • L. Wolfe
  • A. Biere


In the Silene latifoliaHadena bicruris nursery pollination system, the Hadena moth is both pollinator and seed predator of its host plant. Floral scent, which differs among S. latifolia individuals and populations, is important for adult Hadena to locate its host. However, the success of moth larvae is strongly reduced if hosts are infected by the anther smut fungus Microbotryum violaceum, a pathogen that is transmitted by flower visitors. There were no qualitative differences between the scent of flowers from healthy and diseased plants. In addition, electroantennographic measurements showed that Hadena responded to the same subset of 19 compounds in samples collected from healthy and diseased plants. However, there were significant quantitative differences in scent profiles. Flowers from diseased plants emitted both a lower absolute amount of floral scent and had a different scent pattern, mainly due to their lower absolute amount of lilac aldehyde, whereas their amount of (E)-β-ocimene was similar to that in healthy flowers. Dual choice behavioral wind tunnel tests using differently scented flowers confirmed that moths respond to both qualitative and quantitative aspects of floral scent, suggesting that they could use differences in floral scent between healthy and infected plants to discriminate against diseased plants. Population mean fruit predation rates significantly increased with population mean levels of the emission rates of lilac aldehyde per flower, indicating that selection on floral scent compounds may not only be driven by effects on pollinator attraction but also by effects on fruit predation. However, variation in mean emission rates of scent compounds per flower generally could not explain the higher fruit predation in populations originating from the introduced North American range compared to populations native to Europe.


Anther smut fungus Microbotryum violaceum Hadena bicruris Lilac aldehyde Nursery pollination Silene latifolia Flower scent Dynamic headspace Wind tunnel biotest Electroantennographic measurements 



The authors thank A. Täuber for rearing moths, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant SystematicsUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany
  2. 2.School of Biological and Conservation SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of BiologyGeorgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA
  4. 4.Department of Multitrophic InteractionsThe Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)HeterenThe Netherlands

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