Herbivore-induced plant volatiles mediate behavioral interactions between a leaf-chewing and a phloem-feeding herbivore

Elizabeth Davidson-Lowe, Jared G. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Plants respond adaptively to herbivore stress in order to maintain fitness. Upon herbivore attack, plants emit blends of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that differ from those that are constitutively emitted. These defense responses are typically specific to the identity of the attacking herbivore and often linked to the herbivore's feeding guild (e.g. chewing, phloem-feeding). Herbivores use plant volatiles to locate suitable host plants and changes in volatile emissions can affect host-plant location. Therefore, herbivores from separate feeding guilds can interact indirectly through the modulation of plant responses. In this study we tested how damage by an herbivore from one feeding guild affected the host-plant choice of an herbivore from a separate feeding guild, and vice versa. A chewing herbivore, the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), and a phloem feeding herbivore, the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), were assayed in olfactometers to assess behavioral responses to odors emitted by potato plants (Solanum tuberosum) that were damaged by herbivores from the other feeding guild. Leptinotarsa decemlineata oriented more frequently towards undamaged plants compared to M. persicae damaged plants. Surprisingly, M. persicae preferred plants that were damaged by L. decemlineata, although previous studies had shown that they perform worse on these plants. Distinct differences were detected in the volatile profiles of herbivore-damaged and undamaged plants. Leptinotarsa decemlineata induced stronger volatile emissions compared to undamaged control plants, while M. persicae tended to suppress volatile emissions. These herbivores demonstrate contrasting induction of plant volatiles and behavioral responses. Exploring the nature of co-occurring herbivores and how they perceive potential hosts can play a significant role in understanding the ecological functions and community dynamics of plant plasticity and interactions with a variety of herbivores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-48
Number of pages10
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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