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J Chem Ecol. 2011 Jan;37(1):40-8. doi: 10.1007/s10886-010-9891-2. Epub 2010 Dec 30.

Behavioral responses of the leafhopper, Cicadulina storeyi China, a major vector of maize streak virus, to volatile cues from intact and leafhopper-damaged maize.

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Department of Crop Production, Soil and Environmental Management, Bowen University, Iwo, Osun State, Nigeria.


The chemical ecology of the leafhopper, Cicadulina storeyi China (Homoptera: Cicadellidae), an important vector of Maize Streak Virus (MSV), was studied with a view to developing novel leafhopper control strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. Choice tests using a Y-tube olfactometer revealed that odors from uninfested maize seedlings (Zea mays cv. Delprim) were significantly more attractive to C. storeyi than odors from C. storeyi-infested seedlings. Headspace samples of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) collected from 10 to 12 day-old uninfested seedlings were more attractive than those collected from infested seedlings. While VOCs collected from uninfested maize seedlings were attractive, VOCs collected from C. storeyi-infested seedlings were significantly repellent. Analysis of the collected VOCs by gas chromatography (GC) and coupled GC-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) led to the identification of myrcene, linalool, (E)-2-decen-1-ol, and decanal from uninfested seedlings, and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT), methyl salicylate, benzyl acetate, indole, geranyl acetate, (E)-caryophyllene, α-bergamotene, (E)-β-farnesene, β-sesquiphellandrene, and (E,E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene (TMTT) from infested seedlings. Of these, methyl salicylate, (E)-caryophyllene, (E)-β-farnesene, and TMTT were identified previously as volatile semiochemicals involved in plant defense against other sucking insect pests. When tested individually for behavioral activity, all compounds were repellent for C. storeyi. Moreover, when these induced VOCs were added to the blend of VOCs from uninfested maize seedlings, a shift from attraction to repellency was observed. Addition of methyl salicylate, (E)-β-farnesene, or TMTT resulted in a choice for the solvent control (i.e., repulsion), whereas addition of (E)-caryophyllene resulted in no reduction in host VOC attractiveness. These results show that VOCs induced in maize have the potential to be exploited in the control of viruliferous leafhoppers in sub-Saharan Africa.

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