Jasmonic acid and herbivory differentially induce carnivore-attracting plant volatiles in Lima bean plants

M. Dicke, R. Gols, D. Ludeking, M.A. Posthumus

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278 Citations (Scopus)


Lima bean plants respond to feeding damage of two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) with the emission of a complex blend of volatiles that are products of several different biosynthetic pathways. These volatiles attract the carnivorous mite Phytoseiulus persimilis, a specialist predator of the spider mites that exterminates entire prey populations, and thus the volatiles contribute indirectly to plant defense. The volatile blend constitutes information to the carnivores, and blend composition is an important factor in this. Jasmonic acid (JA) is involved in the signal transduction of this induced defense. Application of JA through the petiole of Lima bean plants induces a volatile blend that is similar, but not identical, to that emitted by spider mite-infested plants. The induced volatiles originate from the lipoxygenase pathway, the shikimic acid pathway, and the isoprenoid pathway. Among the induced bean plant volatiles are nitriles and oximes. Of a total of 61 components, 10 are emitted at significantly different rates. Among these are the terpene (E)-4,8-dimethyl- 1,3,7-nonatriene and the phenolic methyl salicylate, two compounds that are known to attract P. persimilis. A crucial test for comparing the effect of spider mite damage and JA application on volatile induction is the response of P. persimilis. The carnivore is attracted by volatiles from JA-treated plants. Moreover, even treatment of Lima bean plants with methyl jasmonate vapor made the plants attractive to the carnivorous mites. However, the predators prefer the volatiles from spider-mile-infested Lima bean plants over those from JA-treated plants. Thus, chemical as well as behavioral analyses demonstrate that spider mite damage and JA treatment have similar, although not identical, effects on volatile induction in Lima bean plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1907-1922
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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