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Herbivore-Induced Plant Volatiles to Enhance Biological Control in Agriculture

Abstract

Plants under herbivore attack synthetize defensive organic compounds that directly or indirectly affect herbivore performance and mediate other interactions with the community. The so-called herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) consist of odors released by attacked plants that serve as important cues for parasitoids and predators to locate their host/prey. The understanding that has been gained on the ecological role and mechanisms of HIPV emission opens up paths for developing novel strategies integrated with biological control programs with the aim of enhancing the efficacy of natural enemies in suppressing pest populations in crops. Tactics using synthetic HIPVs or chemically/genetically manipulating plant defenses have been suggested in order to recruit natural enemies to plantations or help guiding them to their host more quickly, working as a “synergistic” agent of biological control. This review discusses strategies using HIPVs to enhance biological control that have been proposed in the literature and were categorized here as: (a) exogenous application of elicitors on plants, (b) use of plant varieties that emit attractive HIPVs to natural enemies, (c) release of synthetic HIPVs, and (d) genetic manipulation targeting genes that optimize HIPV emission. We discuss the feasibility, benefits, and downsides of each strategy by considering not only field studies but also comprehensive laboratory assays that present an applied approach for HIPVs or show the potential of employing them in the field.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful for Elvira De Lange for useful revisions in the early version of this paper, Patricia Milano for the plant drawing, and Arodí Prado Favaris for helping on figure editing. We thank INCT Semioquímicos na Agricultura for financial support. MFGVP is sponsored by FAPESP (Proc 2012/12252-1).

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Peñaflor, M.F.G.V., Bento, J.M.S. Herbivore-Induced Plant Volatiles to Enhance Biological Control in Agriculture. Neotrop Entomol 42, 331–343 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13744-013-0147-z

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Keywords

  • Attraction
  • plant induced defenses
  • semiochemicals
  • tritrophic interactions