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J Chem Ecol. 2010 May;36(5):500-12. doi: 10.1007/s10886-010-9782-6. Epub 2010 Apr 13.

Genetic variation in jasmonic acid- and spider mite-induced plant volatile emission of cucumber accessions and attraction of the predator Phytoseiulus persimilis.

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Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University and Research Centre Wageningen, Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Cucumber plants (Cucumis sativus L.) respond to spider-mite (Tetranychus urticae) damage with the release of specific volatiles that are exploited by predatory mites, the natural enemies of the spider mites, to locate their prey. The production of volatiles also can be induced by exposing plants to the plant hormone jasmonic acid. We analyzed volatile emissions from 15 cucumber accessions upon herbivory by spider mites and upon exposure to jasmonic acid using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Upon induction, cucumber plants emitted over 24 different compounds, and the blend of induced volatiles consisted predominantly of terpenoids. The total amount of volatiles was higher in plants treated with jasmonic acid than in those infested with spider mites, with (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, (E,E)-alpha-farnesene, and (E)-beta-ocimene as the most abundant compounds in all accessions in both treatments. Significant variation among the accessions was found for the 24 major volatile compounds. The accessions differed strongly in total amount of volatiles emitted, and displayed very different odor profiles. Principal component analysis performed on the relative quantities of particular compounds within the blend revealed clusters of highly correlated volatiles, which is suggestive of common metabolic pathways. A number of cucumber accessions also were tested for their attractiveness to Phytoseiulus persimilis, a specialist predator of spider mites. Differences in the attraction of predatory mites by the various accessions correlated to differences in the individual chemical profiles of these accessions. The presence of genetic variation in induced plant volatile emission in cucumber shows that it is possible to breed for cucumber varieties that are more attractive to predatory mites and other biological control agents.

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