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Science. 1990 Nov 30;250(4985):1251-3.

Exploitation of herbivore-induced plant odors by host-seeking parasitic wasps.


Corn seedlings release large amounts of terpenoid volatiles after they have been fed upon by caterpillars. Artificially damaged seedlings do not release these volatiles in significant amounts unless oral secretions from the caterpillars are applied to the damaged sites. Undamaged leaves, whether or not they are treated with oral secretions, do not release detectable amounts of the terpenoids. Females of the parasitic wasp Cotesia marginiventris (Cresson) learn to take advantage of those plant-produced volatiles to locate hosts when exposed to these volatiles in association with hosts or host by-products. The terpenoids may be produced in defense against herbivores but may also serve a secondary function in attracting the natural enemies of these herbivores.

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