Volatile Interaction Between Undamaged Plants Affects Tritrophic Interactions Through Changed Plant Volatile Emission

Plant Signal Behav. 2014;9(8):e29517. doi: 10.4161/psb.29517.


Volatile interactions between unattacked plants can lead to changes in their volatile emissions. Exposure of potato plants to onion plant volatiles results in increased emission of 2 terpenoids, (E)-nerolidol and TMTT. We investigated whether this is detectable by the ladybird Coccinella septempunctata. The odor of onion-exposed potato was significantly more attractive to ladybirds than that of unexposed potato. Further, a synthetic blend mimicking the volatile profile of onion-exposed potato was more attractive than a blend mimicking that of unexposed potato. When presented individually, TMTT was attractive to ladybirds whereas (E)-nerolidol was repellent. Volatile exchange between unattacked plants and consequent increased attractiveness for ladybirds may be a mechanism that contributes to the increased abundance of natural enemies in complex plant habitats.

Keywords: (E)-nerolidol; Coccinella septempunctata; TMTT; aphids; ladybird; natural enemies; onion; plant–plant communication; potato; volatiles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkenes / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aphids*
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Coleoptera*
  • Ecosystem
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Herbivory
  • Odorants / analysis
  • Onions / metabolism*
  • Pheromones / metabolism*
  • Plant Diseases
  • Sesquiterpenes / metabolism
  • Solanum tuberosum / drug effects
  • Solanum tuberosum / metabolism*
  • Terpenes / metabolism
  • Volatile Organic Compounds / metabolism*


  • 4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene
  • Alkenes
  • Pheromones
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • Volatile Organic Compounds
  • nerolidol