Parasitoid-specific induction of plant responses to parasitized herbivores affects colonization by subsequent herbivores

E.H. Poelman, S.J. Zheng, Z. Zhang, N.M. Heemskerk, A.M. Cortesero, M. Dicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Plants are exposed to a suite of herbivorous attackers that often arrive sequentially. Herbivory affects interactions between the host plants and subsequently attacking herbivores. Moreover, plants may respond to herbivory by emitting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that attract carnivorous natural enemies of the herbivores. However, information borne by VOCs is ubiquitous and may attract carnivores, such as parasitoids, that differ in their effectiveness at releasing the plant from its herbivorous attackers. Furthermore, the development of parasitoids within their herbivorous hosts, attacking a given host plant, may influence the elicitation of defensive reactions in the host plant. This may, in turn, affect the behavior of subsequent herbivores attacking the host plant. Here, we show that the species identity of a parasitoid had a more significant effect on defense responses of Brassica oleracea plants than the species identity of the herbivorous hosts of the parasitoids. Consequently, B. oleracea plants that were damaged by caterpillars (Pieris spp.) parasitized by different parasitoid species varied in the degree to which diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella) selected the plants for oviposition. Attracting parasitoids in general benefitted the plants by reducing diamondback moth colonization. However, the species of parasitoid that parasitized the herbivore significantly affected the magnitude of this benefit by its species-specific effect on herbivore–plant interactions mediated by caterpillar regurgitant. Our findings show that information-mediated indirect defense may lead to unpredictable consequences for plants when considering trait-mediated effects of parasitized caterpillars on the host plant and their consequences because of community-wide responses to induced plants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19647-19652
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number49
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • insect attack
  • volatiles
  • defense
  • elicitors
  • larvae
  • specialist
  • selection
  • pathogen
  • leaves
  • wasps

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Parasitoid-specific induction of plant responses to parasitized herbivores affects colonization by subsequent herbivores'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this