Genotypic Variation and Phenotypic Plasticity in Gene Expression and Emissions of Herbivore-Induced Volatiles, and their Potential Tritrophic Implications, in Cranberries

  • Elvira S. De LangeEmail author
  • Jordano Salamanca
  • James Polashock
  • Cesar Rodriguez-Saona


Herbivorous insects are important problems in cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) production. The use of chemical pesticides is common practice, but beneficial insects such as natural enemies of herbivores (e.g. predators and parasitoids) could be affected as well. Therefore, we studied the defensive mechanisms that cranberry plants use to combat pests, focusing on herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs), which can be used to recruit predators and parasitoids foraging for prey or hosts. Then, we used synthetic HIPVs to test the attraction of natural enemies. In a greenhouse, we assessed nine cranberry genotypes for expression of genes involved in HIPV biosynthesis and/or emission of HIPVs. In an experimental field, we assessed whether baiting traps with individual or combinations of HIPVs increased attractiveness to natural enemies. The results showed that different cranberry genotypes vary in their emission of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes but not in their expression of two genes associated with terpene biosynthesis, α-humulene/β-caryophyllene synthase and (3S,6E)-nerolidol/R-linalool synthase. Induction with methyl jasmonate or herbivore (gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar L.) feeding increased the expression of these genes and emission of HIPVs. The HIPV methyl salicylate (MeSA), alone or in combination with other HIPVs, increased syrphid attraction by 6-fold in the field, while (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate and MeSA repelled ladybeetles and megaspilids, respectively. Linalool and β-caryophyllene elicited no behavioral responses of natural enemies. Elucidating the mechanisms of pest resistance, as well as experimentally augmenting plant defenses such as HIPVs, may contribute to the development of more sustainable pest management practices in crops, including cranberries.


Gypsy moth Methyl salicylate Methyl jasmonate Natural enemies Vaccinium macrocarpon Indirect defenses 



We thank Vera Kyryczenko-Roth, Rob Holdcraft, Kristy Adams, Manuel Chacón, Charles Corris, Kris Dahl, Diego Fraga, Jennifer Frake, Andrew Lux, Melissa Meagher, Caryn Michael, Sarah Ongaro, Langley Oudemans, Gabrielle Pintauro, and Mara Schiffhauer for technical assistance. We also thank Dr. Thomas Hartman (Rutgers University, Mass Spectrometry Support Facility) for assistance in volatile identification, Matthew Kramer (USDA-ARS, Biometric Consulting Service) for assistance in statistical analysis of gene expression data and Dr. Brittany Dodson (Copy Editor & Science Writer; Bellefonte, PA) for editing services. This work was supported by the hatch project No. NJ08192 and funds from the New Jersey Blueberry and Cranberry Research Council, Inc., Cranberry Institute, Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association, Canadian Cranberry Growers Coalition, and Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. to CR-S.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Entomology and NematologyUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Escuela de Ciencias Agrícolas, Pecuarias y de Medio Ambiente (ECAPMA)Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia (UNAD)BogotáColombia
  3. 3.Genetic Improvement of Fruits and Vegetables Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research ServiceChatsworthUSA
  4. 4.Department of Entomology, Philip E. Marucci Center for Blueberry and Cranberry Research and ExtensionRutgers UniversityChatsworthUSA

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