Fusarium infection in maize: volatile induction of infected and neighboring uninfected plants has the potential to attract a pest cereal leaf beetle, Oulema melanopus

Dariusz Piesik, Grzegorz Lemńczyk, Agata Skoczek, Robert Lamparski, Jan Bocianowski, Karol Kotwica, Kevin J Delaney
Journal of Plant Physiology 2011 September 1, 168 (13): 1534-42
Fusarium infection of maize leaves and/or roots through the soil can stimulate the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). It is also well known that VOC emission from maize plants can repel or attract pests. In our experiments, we studied VOC induction responses of Zea mays L. ssp. mays cv. 'Prosna' having Fusarium infection (mix of four species) in leaves or roots, then tested for VOC induction of uninfected neighboring plants, and finally examined wind-tunnel behavioral responses of the adult cereal leaf beetle, Oulema melanopus L. (Chrysomelidae: Coleoptera) behavior to four induced VOCs. In the first part of our experiment, we confirmed that several green leaf volatiles (GLVs; (Z)-3-hexenal, (E)-2-hexenal, (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, (E)-2-hexen-1-ol, (Z)-3-hexen-1-yl acetate, 1-hexyl acetate), terpenes (β-pinene, β-myrcene, Z-ocimene, linalool, β-caryophyllene), and shikimic acid pathway derivatives (benzyl acetate, methyl salicylate, indole) were positively induced from maize plants infected by Fusarium spp. The quantities of induced VOCs were higher at 7d than 3d post-infection and greater when plants were infected with Fusarium on leaves rather than through soil. In the second part of our experiment, uninfected maize plants also showed significantly positive induction of several VOCs when neighboring an infected plant where the degree of induction was negatively related to the distance from the infected plant. In the third part of our experiment, a Y-tube bioassay was used to evaluate upwind orientation of adult cereal leaf beetles to four individual VOCs. Female and male O. melanopus were significantly attracted to the GLVs (Z)-3-hexenal and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, and the terpenes linalool and β-caryophyllene. Our results indicate that a pathogen can induce several VOCs in maize plants that also induce VOCs in neighboring uninfected plants, though VOC induction could increase the range at which an insect pest species is attracted to VOC inducing plants.

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