Although odour-mediated interactions among plants, spider mites and predatory mites have been extensively studied above-ground, belowground studies are in their infancy. In this paper, we investigate whether feeding by rust mites (Aceria tulipae) cause tulip bulbs to produce odours that attract predatory mites (Neoseiulus cucumeris). Since our aim was to demonstrate such odours and not their relevance under soil conditions, the experiments were carried out using a classic Y-tube olfactometer in which the predators moved on a Y-shaped wire in open air. We found that food-deprived female predators can discriminate between odours from infested bulbs and odours from uninfested bulbs or artificially wounded bulbs. No significant difference in attractiveness to predators was found between clean bulbs and bulbs either wounded 30 min or 3 h before the experiment. These results indicate that it may not be simply the wounding of the bulbs, but rather the feeding by rust mites, which causes the bulb to release odours that attract N. cucumeris. Since bulbs are belowground plant structures, the olfactometer results demonstrate the potential for odour-mediated interactions in the soil. However, their importance in the actual soil medium remains to be demonstrated.
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Aratchige, N., Lesna, I. & Sabelis, M. Below-ground plant parts emit herbivore-induced volatiles: olfactory responses of a predatory mite to tulip bulbs infested by rust mites. Exp Appl Acarol 33, 21–30 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:APPA.0000030011.66371.3f