Ageratum conyzoides L. weed often invades cultivated fields and reduces crop productivity in Southeast Asia and South China. However, intercropping this weed in citrus orchards may increase the population of predatory mite Amblyseius newsami, an effective natural enemy of citrus red mite Panonychus citri, and keep the population of P. citri at low and noninjurious levels. This study showed that A. conyzoides produced and released volatile allelochemicals into the air in the intercropped citrus orchard, and these volatiles influenced the olfactory responses of A. newsami and P. citri. At test temperature (25°C), A. conyzoides fresh leaves, its essential oil, and major constituents, demethoxy-ageratochromene, β-caryophyllene, α-bisabolene, and E-β-farnesene, attracted A. newsami and slightly repelled P. citri. Field experiments demonstrated that spraying A. conyzoides essential oil emulsion in an A. conyzoides nonintercropped citrus orchard increased the population density of A. newsami from below 0.1 to over 0.3 individuals per leaf, reaching the same level as in an A. conyzoides intercropped citrus orchard. However, this effect could not be maintained beyond 48 hr because of the volatility of the essential oil. In contrast, in the A. conyzoides intercropped citrus orchard, A. conyzoides plants continuously produced and released volatile allelochemicals and maintained the A. newsami population for a long time. The results suggest that intercropping of A. conyzoides not only made the citrus orchard ecosystem more favorable for the predatory mite A. newsami, but also that the volatile allelochemicals released from A. conyzoides regulated the population of A. newsami and P. citri.
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The authors thank professor S. S. Narwal, Haryana Agricultural University, India, and two anonymous reviewers. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC grant 30170182 and 39670141) and Hundreds-Talent Program, Chinese Academy of Sciences (BR04135).
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Kong, C., Hu, F., Xu, X. et al. Volatile Allelochemicals in the Ageratum conyzoides Intercropped Citrus Orchard and their Effects on Mites Amblyseius newsami and Panonychus citri. J Chem Ecol 31, 2193–2203 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-005-6085-4
- Ageratum conyzoides L.
- volatile allelochemical
- citrus orchard
- predatory mite Amblyseius newsami
- citrus red mite
- olfactory response