Infochemically mediated tritrophic interaction webs on cabbage plants
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In response to damage by herbivores, plants are known to emit infochemicals that enhance the effectiveness of insect parasitoids. Studies on plant–parasitoid interactions mediated by such infochemicals have focused on the tritrophic systems in which plants are infested by a single herbivore species. In natural ecosystems, however, plants are often simultaneously infested by several herbivorous species. The present study focuses on two herbivorous species that simultaneously attack crucifer plants and their respective parasitic wasps. We first show the specific responses of the two specialist parasitic wasps [Cotesia plutellae and C. glomerata (Hymenoptera: Braconidae)] to infochemicals originating from cabbage plants (Brassica oleracea cv. Sikidori) infested by each of their respective host larvae [Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae) and Pieris rapae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae)]. We then coupled the two tritrophic systems on the same cabbage plants. These experiments demonstrated the presence of indirect interactions between the two species of herbivores. Overall, the results indicate the presence of infochemically mediated tritrophic interaction webs on a single plant.
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