Choosy egg parasitoids: specificity of oviposition-induced pine volatiles exploited by an egg parasitoid of pine sawflies

R. Mumm, T. Tiemann, M. Varama, M. Hilker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Generalist parasitoids are well-known to be able to cope with the high genotypic and phenotypic plasticity of plant volatiles by learning odours during their host encounters. In contrast, specialised parasitoids often respond innately to host-specific cues. Previous studies have shown that females of the specialised egg parasitoid Chrysonotomyia ruforum Krausse (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) are attracted to volatiles from Pinus sylvestris L. induced by the egg deposition of its host Diprion pini L. (Hymenoptera: Diprionidae), when they have previously experienced pine twigs with host eggs. In this study we investigated by olfactometer bioassays how specifically C. ruforum responded to oviposition-induced plant volatiles. Furthermore, we studied whether parasitoids show an innate response to oviposition-induced pine volatiles. Naïve parasitoids were not attracted to oviposition-induced pine volatiles. The attractiveness of volatiles from pines carrying eggs was shown to be specific for the pine and herbivore species, respectively (species specificity). We also tested whether not only oviposition, but also larval feeding, induces attractive volatiles (developmental stage specificity). The feeding of D. pini larvae did not induce the emission of P. sylvestris volatiles attractive to the egg parasitoid. Our results show that a specialist egg parasitoid does not innately show a positive response to oviposition-induced plant volatiles, but needs to learn them. Furthermore, the results show that C. ruforum as a specialist does not learn a wide range of volatiles as some generalists do, but instead learns only a very specific oviposition-induced plant volatile pattern, i.e., a pattern induced by the most preferred host species laying eggs on the most preferred food plant
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • plant-carnivore mutualism
  • diprion-pini
  • dietary specialization
  • infochemical use
  • natural enemies
  • apis-mellifera
  • complex odors
  • host location
  • genus pinus
  • black pine

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