Effects of molasses grass, Melinis minutiflora volatiles on the foraging behavior of the cereal stemborer parasitoid, Cotesia sesamiae

Linnet S Gohole, William A Overholt, Zeyaur R Khan, John A Pickett, Louise E M Vet
Journal of Chemical Ecology 2003, 29 (3): 731-45
Olfactory responses of the cereal stemborer parasitoid Cotesia sesamiae to volatiles emitted by gramineous host and nonhost plants of the stemborers were studied in a Y-tube olfactometer. The host plants were maize (Zea mays) and sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), while the nonhost plant was molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora). In single-choice tests, females of C. sesamiae chose volatiles from infested and uninfested host plants and molasses grass over volatiles from the control (soil). In dual-choice tests, the wasp preferred volatiles from infested host plants to those from uninfested host plants. There was no discrimination between molasses grass volatiles and those of uninfested maize, uninfested sorghum, or infested maize. The wasp preferred sorghum volatiles over maize. Combining uninfested maize or sorghum with molasses grass did not make volatiles from the combination more attractive as compared to only uninfested host plants. Infested maize alone was as attractive as when combined with molasses grass. Infested sorghum was preferred over its combination with molasses grass. Local growth conditions of the molasses grasses influenced attractiveness to the parasitoids. Volatiles from Thika molasses grass were attractive, while those from Mbita molasses grass were not. Growing the Thika molasses grass in Mbita rendered it unattractive and vice versa with the Mbita molasses grass. This is a case of the same genotype expressing different phenotypes due to environmental factors.


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