Induction of plant volatiles by herbivores with different feeding habits and the effects of induced defenses on host-plant selection by thrips

Casey M. Delphia, Mark C. Mescher, Consuelo M. De Moraes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Induced plant responses to attack by chewing insects have been intensively studied, but little is known about plant responses to nonchewing insects or to attack by multiple herbivores with different feeding habits. We examined volatile emissions by tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum, in response to feeding by the piercing-sucking insect western flower thrips (WFT), Frankliniella occidentalis, the chewing herbivore Heliothis virescens, and both herbivores simultaneously. In addition, we examined the effects of herbivore-induced plant defenses on host-plant selection by WFT. Plants responded to thrips feeding by consistently releasing five compounds. Simultaneous feeding by WFT and H. virescens elicited the same 11 compounds emitted in response to caterpillar feeding alone; however, two compounds, α-humulene and caryophyllene oxide, were produced in greater amounts in response to simultaneous herbivory. In choice tests, thrips consistently preferred uninduced plants over all other treatments and preferred plants damaged by caterpillars and those treated with caterpillar saliva over those treated with caterpillar regurgitant. The results are consistent with a previous finding that caterpillar regurgitant induces the release of significantly more volatile nicotine than plants damaged by caterpillars or plants treated with caterpillar saliva. A repellent effect of nicotine on WFT was confirmed by encircling unwounded plants with septa releasing volatile nicotine. Our results provide the first direct evidence that thrips feeding induces volatile responses and indicates that simultaneous herbivory by insects with different feeding habits can alter volatile emissions. In addition, the findings demonstrate that induced plant responses influence host-plant selection by WFT and suggest that the induction of volatile nicotine may play a role in this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)997-1012
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Induction of plant volatiles by herbivores with different feeding habits and the effects of induced defenses on host-plant selection by thrips'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this