What signals do herbivore-induced plant volatiles provide conspecific herbivores?
Herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) have been opined as ‘indirect or direct defenses’ of plants and are extensively studied. In contrast, HIPVs may also indicate that plant defenses have been overcome by herbivores infesting the plant; however, studies on this aspect have so far received little attention. Using the interaction of Capsicum annum (Bell pepper) with its pest Scirtothrips dorsalis (Chilli thrips) as a model system, we studied the role of HIPVs in this selected insect–plant interaction. Multiple-choice olfactometer assays with headspace volatiles collected from different growth stages of un-infested C. annum plants represented by pre-flowering (PF), flowering (FL) and fruiting stages (FR) proved FR volatiles to be highly attractive to S. dorsalis. Further, FR plants were infested with S. dorsalis adults and HIPVs released by infested plants were collected and subjected to multiple-choice olfactometer bioassays. Thrips were significantly attracted to HIPVs than to headspace volatiles of un-infested FR plants or thrips body odour. Coupled GC-EAG with S. dorsalis and HIPVs or FR plant volatile revealed specific compounds that elicited an EAG response. Individual EAG-active compounds were less attractive to thrips, however, synthetic blends of EAG-active compounds at the ratio similar to headspace samples were found to be highly attractive. However, when given a choice between synthetic blends of HIPVs and FR, thrips were significantly attracted to synthetic blend of HIPVs. Our study provides empirical data on signals HIPVs may provide to conspecific herbivores and suggests that the role of HIPVs, mostly generalized as defense, may vary based on the interaction and must be studied closely to understand their ecological functions.
KeywordsHIPVs Insect–plant interaction Capsicum annum Scirtothrips dorsalis GC-EAG
This work was supported by Grants from the Indian Council for Agricultural Research [ICAR] through National Fellow Project.
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