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The Tea Weevil, Myllocerinus aurolineatus, is Attracted to Volatiles Induced by Conspecifics


The tea weevil, Myllocerinus aurolineatus (Voss) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is a leaf-feeding pest of Camellia sinensis (O.Ktze.) with aggregative behaviors that can seriously reduce tea yield and quality. Although herbivore-induced host plant volatiles have been shown to attract conspecific individuals of some beetle pests, especially members of the Chrysomelidae family, little is known about the volatiles emitted from tea plants infested by M. aurolineatus adults and their roles in mediating interactions between conspecifics. The results of behavioral bioassays revealed that volatile compounds emitted from tea plants infested by M. aurolineatus were attractive to conspecific weevils. Volatile analyses showed that infestations dramatically increased the emission of volatiles, (Z)-3-hexenal, (Z)-3-hexenol, (E)-β-ocimene, linalool, phenylethyl alcohol, benzyl nitrile, indole, (E, E)-α-farnesene, (E)-nerolidol, and 31 other compounds. Among the induced volatiles, 12 chemicals, including γ-terpinene, benzyl alcohol, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, myrcene, benzaldehyde, (Z)-3-hexenal, and (E, E)-α-farnesene, elicited antennal responses from both sexes of the herbivore, whereas (E)-β-ocimene elicited antennal responses only from males. Using a Y-tube olfactometer, we found that six of the 13 chemicals, γ-terpinene, benzyl alcohol, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, myrcene, benzaldehyde, and (Z)-3-hexenal, were attractive to both males and females; two chemicals, (E/Z)-β-ocimene and (E, E)-α-farnesene, were attractive only to males; and four chemicals, (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, phenylethyl alcohol, linalool, and (Z)-3-hexenol, were attractive only to females. The findings provide new insights into the interactions between tea plants and their herbivores, and may help scientists develop new strategies for controlling the herbivore.

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We thank Taro Maeda for providing chemical standards of DMNT; Dr. Jonathan David Sweeny for revising the English and providing suggestions for further investigation; and Emily Wheeler for editorial assistance. We thank Liang Su and Wen Zhang , who came from Jilin Agricultural University and Yangtze University as summer students in our group, for collecting and rearing weevils. The study was sponsored by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (200930771449), and the Science and Technology Department of Zhejiang Province (2009C32052).

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Correspondence to Zong-Mao Chen.

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Xiao-Ling Sun and Guo-Chang Wang contributed equally.

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Sun, XL., Wang, GC., Cai, XM. et al. The Tea Weevil, Myllocerinus aurolineatus, is Attracted to Volatiles Induced by Conspecifics. J Chem Ecol 36, 388–395 (2010).

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Key Words

  • Attraction
  • Volatiles
  • Camellia sinensis
  • Myllocerinus aurolineatus
  • Bioassay