Herbivory induces systemic production of plant volatiles that attract predators of the herbivore: extraction of endogenous elicitor.

M. Dicke, P. van Baarlen, R. Wessels, H. Dijkman

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109 Citations (Scopus)


It was previously shown that in response to infestation by spider mites (Tetranychus urticae), lima bean plants produce a volatile herbivoreinduced synomone that attracts phytoseiid mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis) that are predators of the spider mites. The production of predator-attracting infochemicals was established to occur systemically throughout the spider mitein-fested plant. Here we describe the extraction of a water-soluble endogenous elicitor from spider mite-infested lima bean leaves. This elicitor was shown to be transported out of infested leaves and was collected in water in which the petiole of the infested leaf was placed. When the petioles of uninfested lima bean leaves were placed in water in which infested leaves had been present for the previous seven days, these uninfested lima bean leaves became highly attractive to predatory mites in an olfactometer when an appropriate control of uninfested lima bean leaves was offered as alternative. The strength of this effect was dependent on the number of spider mites infesting the elicitor-producing leaves. Higher numbers of spider mites resulted in an elicitor solution with a stronger effect. In addition, spider mite density was important. The elicitor obtained from one leaf with 50 spider mites had a stronger effect on the attractiveness of uninfested leaves than the elicitor obtained from three leaves with 17 spider mites each. This suggests that the stress intensity imposed on a plant is an important determinant of the elicitor quantity. While the elicitor has a strong effect on the attractiveness of uninfested leaves, spider mite-infested leaves are still much more attractive to predatory mites than elicitor-exposed leaves. The data are discussed in the context of systemic effects in plant defense and the biosynthesis of herbivore-induced terpenoids in plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-599
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 1993


  • Acari
  • endogenous elicitor
  • herbivore-induced synomone
  • lima bean
  • olfactometer
  • Phaseolus lunatus
  • Phytoseiulus persimilis
  • Plant defense
  • predatory mites
  • spider mites
  • systemic effect
  • Tetranychus urticae
  • tritrophic interactions


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