Differential effects of jasmonic acid treatment of Brassica nigra on the attraction of pollinators, parasitoids, and butterflies

M. Bruinsma, H. IJdema, J.J.A. van Loon, M. Dicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Herbivore-induced plant defences influence the behaviour of herbivores as well as that of their natural enemies. Jasmonic acid is one of the key hormones involved in both these direct and indirect induced defences. Jasmonic acid treatment of plants changes the composition of defence chemicals in the plants, induces volatile emission, and increases the production of extrafloral nectar. However, few studies have addressed the potential influence of induced defences on flower nectar chemistry and pollinator behaviour. These have shown that herbivore damage can affect pollination rates and plant fitness. Here, we have investigated the effect of jasmonic acid treatment on floral nectar production and the attraction of pollinators, as well as the effect on the behaviour of an herbivore and its natural enemy. The study system consisted of black mustard plants, Brassica nigra L. (Brassicaceae), pollinators of Brassica nigra (i.e., honeybees and syrphid flies), a specialist herbivore, Pieris rapae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae), and a parasitoid wasp that uses Pieris larvae as hosts, Cotesia glomerata L. (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). We show that different trophic levels are differentially affected by jasmonic acid-induced changes. While the herbivore prefers control leaves over jasmonic acid-treated leaves for oviposition, the parasitoid C. glomerata is more attracted to jasmonic acid-treated plants than to control plants. We did not observe differences in pollinator preference, the rates of flower visitation by honeybees and syrphid flies were similar for control and jasmonic acid-treated plants. Plants treated with jasmonic acid secreted less nectar than control plants and the concentrations of glucose and fructose tended to be lower than in nectar from control plants. Jasmonic acid treatment resulted in a lower nectar production than actual feeding damage by P. rapae caterpillars.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • nicotiana-attenuata
  • plant fitness
  • wild radish
  • herbivores
  • nectar
  • alkaloids
  • growth
  • preferences
  • visitation
  • chemistry


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