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J Exp Biol. 2004 Jan;207(Pt 1):47-53.

Insect oviposition induces volatile emission in herbaceous plants that attracts egg parasitoids.

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  • 1Department of S.En.Fi.Mi.Zo. - Entomology Acarology and Zoology, University of Palermo, Italy.


The egg parasitoid Trissolcus basalis (Wollaston) (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) responded to synomones emitted by leguminous plants induced by feeding and oviposition activity of the bug Nezara viridula (L.) (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). This was shown by laboratory bioassays using a Y-tube olfactometer. Broad bean leaves (Vicia faba L.) damaged by feeding activity of N. viridula and on which host egg mass had been laid produced synomones that attracted T. basalis. By contrast, undamaged leaves or feeding-damaged leaves without eggs did not attract wasp females. French bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) also emitted attractive synomones when they were damaged by host feeding and carrying egg masses. Thus, release of feeding- and oviposition-induced synomones does not seem to be plant-specific. Synomone production was shown to be a systemically induced plant physiological response to feeding damage and oviposition. Also, parts of the plant that were left undamaged and did not carry host eggs emitted attractive synomones when other parts of the plant were damaged by feeding and carrying eggs. Furthermore, wasps were not attracted by N. viridula egg masses offered alone or combined with damaged broad bean leaves. Thus, the attractiveness of feeding-damaged leaves carrying eggs is due to induction by feeding and oviposition rather than due to a combined effect of attractive volatiles released from eggs and damaged leaves. The production of synomones was influenced by the age of the host egg mass, because feeding-damaged leaves bearing egg masses attracted the parasitoid until the eggs were approximately 72-96 h old but not once the larvae had hatched from the eggs (approximately 120 h old). These results show that annual plants are able to produce synomones as a consequence of feeding and egg mass oviposition by a sucking insect.

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