Herbivory by a Phloem-feeding Insect Inhibits Floral Volatile Production

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31971. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031971. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Abstract

There is extensive knowledge on the effects of insect herbivory on volatile emission from vegetative tissue, but little is known about its impact on floral volatiles. We show that herbivory by phloem-feeding aphids inhibits floral volatile emission in white mustard Sinapis alba measured by gas chromatographic analysis of headspace volatiles. The effect of the Brassica specialist aphid Lipaphis erysimi was stronger than the generalist aphid Myzus persicae and feeding by chewing larvae of the moth Plutella xylostella caused no reduction in floral volatile emission. Field observations showed no effect of L. erysimi-mediated floral volatile emission on the total number of flower visits by pollinators. Olfactory bioassays suggested that although two aphid natural enemies could detect aphid inhibition of floral volatiles, their olfactory orientation to infested plants was not disrupted. This is the first demonstration that phloem-feeding herbivory can affect floral volatile emission, and that the outcome of interaction between herbivory and floral chemistry may differ depending on the herbivore's feeding mode and degree of specialisation. The findings provide new insights into interactions between insect herbivores and plant chemistry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aphids / physiology*
  • Biological Assay
  • Brassica
  • Chromatography, Gas / methods
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Flowers
  • Herbivory*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Odorants
  • Phloem / chemistry
  • Phloem / metabolism*
  • Pollen / chemistry
  • Temperature
  • Time Factors