Posted in aphid alarm pheromones, natural enemies, tagged alarm pheromone, aphid alarm pheromone, aphidius, egg parasitoid, farnesene, journal of applied entomology, parasitoid, plant volatiles, sex pheromone on April 26, 2012 |
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In the last months I found in literature several very intriguing papers about aphids and their biological control. A good example is the paper entitled “Effect of synthetic and plant-extracted aphid pheromones on the behaviour of Aphidius colemani” recently published by O. M. C. C. Ameixa and P. Kindlmann in the Journal of Applied Entomology.
According to this paper the aphid parasitoid Aphidius colemani (in the photo from the Viridaxis homepage) is sensitive to a mixture of odours including both synthetic and plant-extracted nepetalactone (a component of aphid sex pheromone) and (E)-b-farnesene (aphid alarm pheromone). The behavioural responses of A. colemani to three semiochemical groups with different concentrations were studied in a square arena by Ameixa and Kindlmann showing that parasitoid females were significantly attracted by the semiochemicals, when their concentrations were high, in which case the females spent more time in squares with semiochemicals. However, the majority of females preferred plant-extracted nepetalactone, when it was in high concentration, but they consistently did not respond to (E)-b-farnesene.
These results support previous data showing that a high concentration of (E)-b-farnesene became repellent to the egg parasitoid Chrysonotomyia ruforum and that parasitoid females were not attracted by different concentrations of (E)-b-farnesene, but when this component was offered against a background of a non-attractive natural blend of pine volatiles, the combination became attractive… suggesting as a whole that to be detected by the parasitoid, (E)-b-farnesene must be in a combination with other plant volatiles.
As a whole these results are extremely important considering that some trials with genetically modified plants producing (E)-b-farnesene are in progress (as reported here) using (E)-b-farnesene alone making these plants probably not really effective to fight aphids.
Ameixa, O., & Kindlmann, P. (2012). Effect of synthetic and plant-extracted aphid pheromones on the behaviour of Aphidius colemani. Journal of Applied Entomology, 136 (4), 292-301 DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0418.2011.01638.x
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In a recent post on genetically modified wheat crops producing the aphid alarm pheromone (E)-beta-farnesene, I suggested some doubts related to results published in literature. I concluded my post writing: “This does not imply that this trial is not interesting at all, since there is scattered evidence in the literature suggesting that alarm pheromone emission might serve as an indirect defense by attracting aphid predators and it will be very interesting to see what will happen to aphid predation”.
A further doubt emerges now from a recent paper published by Ameixa & Kindlmann in the Journal of Applied Entomology where one of the most surprising results is that (E)-beta-farnesene did not elicit any strong response from the Aphidius colemani aphid parasitoids. Furthermore, it seems that in order to influence the behaviour of A. colamani, the (E)-beta-farnesene must be in a combination with other plant volatiles. This result support a previous study by Mumm and Hilker (2005) who has shown that a high concentration of (E)-beta-farnesene became repellent to the egg parasitoid Chrysonotomyia ruforum.
To achieve a complete understanding of the parasitoid behaviour in this system, further observations and ﬁeld experiments should be made in the future and probably it is too early for suggesting that genetically modified wheat crop will be the final solution for aphid damages. We have a lot of work to do since, as recently Carl Zimmer stated, in biology being the godawful mess that it is, it seems that different factors work together, rather than in isolation.
Mumm R, Hilker M (2005) The signiﬁcance of background odour for an egg parasitoid to detect plants with host eggs. Chem. Senses, 30, 337-343
Ameixa O, Kindlmann P (2011) Effect of synthetic and plant-extracted aphid pheromones on the behaviour of Aphidius colemani Journal of Applied Entomology, in press.
Image: Bio-bee biological systems
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