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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Predator/prey Interactions: Olfactory Adaptations of Generalist and Specialist Predators

Author
item Dickens, Joseph

Submitted to: Journal of Chemical Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 30, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Herbivorous insects use chemical and physical cues to locate  suitable host plants. Specialist and generalist predators  used as biocontrol agents for CPB must use cues to locate  their herbivorous prey. Until now, little was known about  chemicals used by CPB to locate its host plant or those used  by its generalist and specialist predators. I have now  discovered that CPB is sensitive to specific chemicals  released by undamaged or artificially-damaged plants and  those damaged by insect feeding. Both generalist and  specialist predators were sensitive to chemicals emitted by  insect-damaged plants. The specialist predator was more  sensitive to these compounds than was the generalist. A  blend of constitutive chemicals released at the wound site  during CPB feeding and systemic chemicals released by the  whole plant following periods of feeding attracted both CPB  and its generalist predator. The discovery of chemicals  detected by CPB and its predators will be used by  entomologists to develop an attractant for field use, and  chemical ecologists and evolutionary biologists to explain  complex interactions among plants and insects.

Technical Abstract: Olfactory responses of the Colorado potato beetle (CPB) generalist predator, Podisus maculiventris (Say)(Pm) and a specialist predator, Perillus bioculatus (F.)(Pb) were investigated. Volatiles tested included 20 compounds emitted by undamaged potato plants, plants that had been artificially damaged, or plants damaged by feeding by CPB larvae. Coupled gas chromatograph/electroantennogram recordings revealed six compounds for which reliable responses were recorded from CPB antennae: (E)-2-hexen-1-ol, (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, (+/-)-linalool, nonanal, (Z)-3-hexenyl butyrate, methyl salicylate, and indole. Both Pm and Pb responded selectively to the same compounds as the CPB with the exception of (E)-2-hexen-1-ol and (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol. Dose response curves showed that CPB was at least 100 x more sensitive to (E)-2-hexen-1-ol than were the predators. Both predators were more sensitive to each of the other compounds than were CPB. These results show that the herbivore (CPB) has olfactory receptors which are more sensitive to constitutive host plant volatiles, e.g. green leaf volatiles, while both generalist (Pm) and specialist (Pb) predators are more sensitive to systemic volatiles produced in response to prey feeding.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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