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Plant Physiol. 2004 Aug;135(4):1984-92. Epub 2004 Aug 6.

Emission of Plutella xylostella-induced compounds from cabbages grown at elevated CO2 and orientation behavior of the natural enemies.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, University of Kuopio, Kuopio FIN-70211, Finland.


Several plant species defend themselves indirectly from herbivores by producing herbivore-induced volatile compounds that attract the natural enemies of herbivores. Here we tested the effects of elevated atmospheric CO(2) (720 micromol mol(-1)) concentration on this indirect defense, physiological properties, and constitutive and induced emissions of white cabbage (Brassica oleracea ssp. capitata, cvs Lennox and Rinda). We monitored the orientation behavior of the generalist predator Podisus maculiventris (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) and the specialist parasitoid Cotesia plutellae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) to plants damaged by Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) in the Y-tube olfactometer. Elevated CO(2) levels did not affect stomatal densities but reduced specific leaf area and increased leaf thickness in cv Lennox. In addition to enhanced constitutive monoterpene emission, P. xylostella-damaged cabbages emitted homoterpene (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, sesquiterpene (E,E)-alpha-farnesene, and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate. Growth at elevated CO(2) had no significant effect on the emissions expressed per leaf area, while minor reduction in the emission of homoterpene (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene and (E,E)-alpha-farnesene was observed at elevated CO(2) in one of two experiments. The generalist predator P. maculiventris discriminated only between the odors of intact and P. xylostella-damaged cv Rinda plants grown at ambient CO(2) concentration, preferring the odor of the damaged plants. The specialist parasitoid C. plutellae preferred the odor of damaged plants of both cultivars grown at ambient CO(2) but did not detect damaged cv Lennox plants grown at elevated CO(2). The results suggest that elevated atmospheric CO(2) concentration could weaken the plant response induced by insect herbivore feeding and thereby lead to a disturbance of signaling to the third trophic level.

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