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Electrophysiological and Behavioral Responses of Microplitis mediator (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) to Caterpillar-Induced Volatiles From Cotton

Huilin Yu, Yongjun Zhang, Kris A. G. Wyckhuys, Kongming Wu, Xiwu Gao, Yuyuan Guo
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EN09162 600-609 First published online: 1 April 2010


Microplitis mediator Haliday (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) is an important larval endoparasitoid of various lepidopteran pests, including Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner). In China, H. armigera is a key pest of cotton and is currently the focus of several biological control efforts that use M. mediator as principal natural enemy of this pest. To improve the success of biological control efforts, behavioral studies are needed that shed light on the interaction between M. mediator and H. armigera. In this study, we determined M. mediator response to volatile compounds from undamaged, mechanically injured, or H. armigera--damaged plants and identified attractive volatiles. In Y-tube olfactometer assays, we found that mechanically damaged plants and/or plants treated with H. armigera oral secretions did not attract wasps. However, volatiles from H. armigera–damaged plants elicited a strong attraction of both M. mediator sexes. Headspace extracts from H. armigera–damaged cotton were analyzed by coupled gas chromatography–electroantennographic detection (GC-EAD), and a total of seven different compounds were found to elicit electroantennogram (EAG) responses, including an unknown compound. Six different EAD-active volatiles were identified from caterpillar-damaged cotton plants, of which 3, 7-dimethyl-1, 3, 6-octatriene and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate were the principal compounds. Olfactometer assays indicated that individual synthetic compounds of 3, 7-dimethyl-1, 3, 6-octatriene, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, and nonanal were attractive to M. mediator. Field cage studies showed that parasitism of H. armigera larvae by M. mediator was higher on cotton plants to which 3,7-dimethyl-1,3, 6-octatriene was applied. Our results show that the combination of terpenoids and green leaf volatiles may not only facilitate host, mate, or food location but may also increase H. armigera parasitism by M. mediator.

  • behavioral experiments
  • gas chromatography–electroantennographic detection
  • Microplitics mediator
  • Helicoverpa armigera
  • plant volatiles
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