Electroantennogram (EAG) responses of Microplitis croceipes and Cotesia marginiventris and their lepidopteran hosts to a wide array of odor stimuli: correlation between EAG response and degree of host specificity?

Esther Ngumbi, Li Chen, Henry Fadamiro
Journal of Insect Physiology 2010, 56 (9): 1260-8
In order to test whether the electroantennogram (EAG) response spectrum of an insect correlates to its degree of host specificity, we recorded EAG responses of two parasitoid species with different degrees of host specificity, Microplitis croceipes (specialist) and Cotesia marginiventris (generalist), to a wide array of odor stimuli including compounds representing green leaf volatiles (GLVs), herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPV), ecologically irrelevant (not used by the parasitoid species and their hosts for host location) plant volatiles, and host-specific odor stimuli (host sex pheromones, and extracts of host caterpillar body and frass). We also tested the EAG responses of female moths of the caterpillar hosts of the parasitoids, Heliothis virescens and Spodoptera exigua, to some of the odor stimuli. We hypothesized that the specialist parasitoid will have a narrower EAG response spectrum than the generalist, and that the two lepidopteran species, which are similar in their host plant use, will show similar EAG response spectra to plant volatiles. As predicted, the specialist parasitoid showed greater EAG responses than the generalist to host-specific odor and one HIPV (cis-3-hexenyl butyrate), whereas the generalist showed relatively greater EAG responses to the GLVs and unrelated plant volatiles. We detected no differences in the EAG responses of H. virescens and S. exigua to any of the tested odor.

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