Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Smells like deceit: A record number of species use the same odor to exploit each other

Date:
May 29, 2014
Source:
Frontiers
Summary:
Ecologists discover a fascinating story of hijacked signals, deceit, stowaways, and eavesdropping in the natural world. It involves the citrus tree, an infectious plant disease called huánglóngběng, a sap-sucking plant louse, and a predatory wasp -- all communicating with each other through a single odor.

The incurable and deadly disease huánglóngběng, also known as citrus greening.
Credit: H. Gomaz, USDA

The open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution reports the first known case where four species, all at different levels in the food chain, use a single odor to communicate with and ruthlessly exploit each other.

Plant-feeding insects are often attracted to odors that are released by damaged plant tissue because these plants are already under attack and so a good place to look for food, sexual partners, and egg-laying sites. The jumping plant louse Diaphorina citri hones in on the odor methyl salicylate that is released by damaged young leaves of citrus trees, whose sap is the only food of the young lice. But other species have evolved the capacity to take advantage of its attraction to methyl salicylate.

One of these is the bacterium Canditatus Liberibacter asiaticus, which infects citrus trees, hijacks its odor production, and forces it to release methyl salicylate to mimic an attack by plant lice. Jumping plant lice that fly towards the source of the odor are duped: they will not find enough food there, as the bacterium has drastically lowered the nutritional quality of infected leaves. This is a trick that forces the lice to quickly seek out another tree again, this time with the bacterium hitching a ride on their body. In this way, the bacterium can infect new citrus trees, where it causes the incurable and deadly disease huánglóngběng.

Enter the wasp Tamarixia radiata, which lays its eggs on young jumping plant lice, so that the wasp larvae can feed on them. Lukasz Stelinski and colleagues from the University of Florida asked whether the wasp is likewise attracted to the odor of methyl salicylate while hunting for plant lice. They placed female wasps in an olfactometer, a Y-shaped device that delivers two opposing air flows, each carrying a different odor. The wasps had the choice of flying towards methyl salicylate or to a control odor such as limonene, another compound produced by citrus trees.

The wasps were strongly attracted to the smell of both bacteria-infected and louse-infested citrus plants, and also to pure methyl salicylate. A further experiment revealed that the wasps were more likely to find and attack young plant lice on plants infected with the bacterium, or on plants that had been treated with methyl salicylate. This proves that the wasp finds its prey by eavesdropping on the odor signal exchanged between bacteria, citrus trees, and plant lice.

"Communication between species is widespread in nature, but almost always involves only two or three species. Here, we show for the first time that the same signal connects four different species, each at a different level in the food chain. Through their separate evolutionary histories, they independently hit on the use of methyl salicylate as a way to take advantage of their prey," says Stelinski.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Xavier Martini, Kirsten S. Pelz-Stelinski, Lukasz L. Stelinski. Plant pathogen-induced volatiles attract parasitoids to increase parasitism of an insect vector. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 2014; 2 DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2014.00008

Cite This Page:

Frontiers. "Smells like deceit: A record number of species use the same odor to exploit each other." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529182617.htm>.
Frontiers. (2014, May 29). Smells like deceit: A record number of species use the same odor to exploit each other. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529182617.htm
Frontiers. "Smells like deceit: A record number of species use the same odor to exploit each other." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140529182617.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) — Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins