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PLoS Biol. 2006 Jun;4(6):e164. Epub 2006 May 16.

Plant volatiles, rather than light, determine the nocturnal behavior of a caterpillar.

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1
Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Kamitanakami, Otsu, Japan.

Abstract

Although many organisms show daily rhythms in their activity patterns, the mechanistic causes of these patterns are poorly understood. Here we show that host plant volatiles affect the nocturnal behavior of the caterpillar Mythimna separata. Irrespective of light status, the caterpillars behaved as if they were in the dark when exposed to volatiles emitted from host plants (either uninfested or infested by conspecific larvae) in the dark. Likewise, irrespective of light status, the caterpillars behaved as if they were in the light when exposed to volatiles emitted from plants in the light. Caterpillars apparently utilize plant volatile information to sense their environment and modulate their daily activity patterns, thereby potentially avoiding the threat of parasitism.

PMID:
16686546
PMCID:
PMC1459477
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.0040164
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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