Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 255–271 | Cite as

The Role of Methyl Salicylate in Prey Searching Behavior of the Predatory Mite Phytoseiulus persimilis

  • Jetske G. De Boer
  • Marcel Dicke


Many carnivorous arthropods use herbivore-induced plant volatiles to locate their prey. These plant volatiles are blends of up to hundreds of compounds. It is often unknown which compounds in such a complex volatile blend represent the signal to the foraging carnivore. We studied the role of methyl salicylate (MeSA) as part of the volatile blend in the foraging behavior of the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis by using a Y-tube olfactometer. MeSA is one of the compounds released by lima bean, infested with Tetranychus urticae—a prey species of the predatory mite. MeSA attracted satiated predatory mites in a dose-dependent way with optimum attraction at a dose of 0.2 μg. Predatory mites did not discriminate between a prey-induced lima bean volatile blend (that contains MeSA) and a prey-induced volatile blend to which an extra amount of synthetic MeSA had been added. However, they preferred a MeSA-containing volatile blend (induced by T. urticae) to an otherwise similar but MeSA-free blend (induced by jasmonic acid). Adding synthetic MeSA to the MeSA-free blend significantly increased the mites' choice for this odor, suggesting an important role for MeSA. This study is a new step toward unraveling the role of herbivore-induced plant volatiles in the foraging behavior of predatory arthropods.

Plant–carnivore interactions herbivore-induced plant volatiles tritrophic interactions variation jasmonic acid specificity methyl salicylate 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jetske G. De Boer
    • 1
  • Marcel Dicke
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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