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Plants cry for help when an attack can be expected

Date:
September 6, 2012
Source:
Wageningen University and Research Centre
Summary:
Eggs of insect pests deposited on plants trigger the production of scents by plants that affect different plant community members probably helping the plant to get rid of the pest before it becomes harmful, according to new research.

T. evanescens on B. nigra.
Credit: Photo by Nina Fatouros, www.bugsinthepicture.com

Eggs of insect pests deposited on plants trigger the production of scents by plants that affect different plant community members probably helping the plant to get rid of the pest before it becomes harmful.

These results are reported the journal PLoS ONE by researchers, of the Laboratory of Entomology of Wageningen University and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW).

The research team, led by Nina Fatouros, tested how parasitic wasps, natural enemies of a common cabbage pest, the large cabbage white butterfly, and gravid butterfly females respond to black mustard, a cabbage relative, emitting scents during the initial phase of herbivore attack, when eggs are laid.

They show that butterfly egg deposition triggers highly specific chemical and structural changes in the plant that attract different parasitic wasps attacking either butterfly eggs or caterpillars but repel egg-laying butterflies.

However, egg deposition by a less common pest, the cabbage moth, does not trigger such changes. A specific plant response to butterfly egg deposition might help the plant defending itself before actual damage by hatching caterpillars starts.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wageningen University and Research Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nina E. Fatouros, Dani Lucas-Barbosa, Berhane T. Weldegergis, Foteini G. Pashalidou, Joop J. A. van Loon, Marcel Dicke, Jeffrey A. Harvey, Rieta Gols, Martinus E. Huigens. Plant Volatiles Induced by Herbivore Egg Deposition Affect Insects of Different Trophic Levels. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (8): e43607 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043607

Cite This Page:

Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Plants cry for help when an attack can be expected." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906084306.htm>.
Wageningen University and Research Centre. (2012, September 6). Plants cry for help when an attack can be expected. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906084306.htm
Wageningen University and Research Centre. "Plants cry for help when an attack can be expected." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906084306.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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