Submitted to: Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/9/2015
Publication Date: 1/31/2016
Citation: Coffey, J.L., Simmons, A.M., Shepard, B.M., Levi, A. 2016. A vertical Y-tube is a valuable tool for assessing whitefly preference, yielding well-defined results among attractive versus poor host plants. Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology. 32(1):7-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.3954/1523-5475-32.1.7
Interpretive Summary: An apparatus was invented by an USDA scientist (Norman McIndoo) about 90 years ago which allows for the study of insect attraction and repellency to odors. This research tool is currently used by a wide range of scientists interested in the response of insects and related organisms to odors. Plant odors are important to the attraction or repellency of many insect pests and beneficial insects. We adapted the Y-tube from the McIndoo apparatus for use in a novel vertical insect monitoring assay. We were then able to not only collect information on the response of whiteflies to odors from different types of plants, but we were also able to collect information on egg laying and insect survival. Information from this study will be useful for a wide range of scientists, including those interested in screening plants for resistance to insect pests, and the information will ultimately benefit growers, consumers and the environment.
Technical Abstract: Almost 90 years ago, an USDA entomologist (Norman McIndoo) reported on his invention of a horizontal Y-tube apparatus which he called an insect olfactometer. In several species of plants, McIndoo used the olfactometer to provide the first experimental proof of insect response to plant odors. The olfactometer has since become a widely used tool to study arthropod response to phytochemicals and other chemicals; this is very important in research on arthropod attraction and repellency in agroecosystems. However, the type of data collected with insect olfactometers are restricted to non-contact with the source of the odor, e.g., a plant or leaf are not touched by the insect. We adapted the Y-tube for use in a novel vertical monitoring assay. In this assay, we studied the sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) in response to five species of vegetable plants (Brassica oleracea ssp. acephala de Condolle, collard; Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walpers ssp. unguiculata, cowpea; Cucurbita pepo L. ssp. melopepo, summer squash; Solanum lycopersicum L., tomato; Citrullus lanatus (Thunberg) Matsum. & Nakai ssp. lanatus, watermelon) and two Plant Introduction Accessions (PIs) of Citrullus colocynthis (L.). This assay allowed for the collection of data based on the response to the insect to plant odors as well as oviposition and insect survival within 24 hrs. This is an assay which may be used by diverse researchers who are interested in the response of arthropods to phytochemicals, including those interested in screening plants for resistance to arthropods.