The significance of background odour for an egg parasitoid to detect plants with host eggs

R. Mumm, M. Hilker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


Scots pine has been shown to produce a volatile bouquet that attracts egg parasitoids in response to oviposition of the herbivorous sawfly Diprion pini. Previous analyses of headspace volatiles of oviposition-induced pine twigs revealed only quantitative changes; in particular, the sesquiterpene (E)-ß-farnesene was emitted in significantly higher quantities by oviposition-induced pine. Here we investigated whether (E)-ß-farnesene attracted the egg parasitoid Chrysonotomyia ruforum. We tested the behavioural response of C. ruforum females to different concentrations of (E)-ß-farnesene. Egg parasitoids did not respond to this sesquiterpene at either concentration tested. However, they did respond significantly to (E)-ß-farnesene when this compound was offered in combination with the volatile blend emitted from pine twigs without eggs. This response was dependent on the applied concentration of (E)-ß-farnesene. Further bioassays with other components [(E)-ß-caryophyllene, -cadinene] of the odour blend of pine were conducted in combination with the volatile blend from egg-free pine as background odour. None of the compounds tested against the background of odour from an egg-free pine twig were attractive to the egg parasitoid. These results suggest that the egg parasitoids responded specifically to (E)-ß-farnesene, but only when this compound was experienced in the `right` context, i.e. when contrasted with a background odour of non-oviposition-induced pine volatiles
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-343
JournalChemical Senses
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • achromatic cues
  • phytoseiulus-persimilis
  • olfactory responses
  • volatile emissions
  • insect herbivores
  • colored patterns
  • pinus-sylvestris
  • alarm pheromone
  • cotton plants
  • bark beetles


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