Attraction of Heterorhabditis sp. toward synthetic (E)-beta-cariophyllene, a plant SOS signal emitted by maize on feeding by larvae of Diabrotica virgifera virgifera

S Anbesse, R U Ehlers
Communications in Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences 2010, 75 (3): 455-8
Most plants, when damaged by herbivore insects, synthesize and release various chemicals as indirect defence mechanism that attract parasitic or predatory insects that are natural enemies of the herbivores. When attacked by Western Corn Rootworms, the roots of many maize plant varieties emit (E)-beta-caryophyllene that attracts the neighbouring entomopathogenic nematodes to kill the feeding pest. Through plant genetics and biotechnology it was possible to manipulate this volatile compound in order to increase the effectiveness of entomopathogenic nematodes in reducing the damage of the pest. In order to further use this strategy to improve the effectiveness of Heterorhabditis bacteriophora by selective breeding, we invesa tigated the applicability of the strategy in different standard laboratory bioassays using three different sand and agar plate assays. The synthetic form of (E)-beta-caryophyllene and H. megidis (the strain, which in previous investigation, showed significant attraction to caryophyllene) were used in the study. In all bioassays no significant difference was observed in attraction of nematodes between the caryophyllene treatments and the controls. The results contradict results of previous investigations done by other investigators (Rasmann et al., 2005). Future investigations for the genetic improvement of the host finding ability of entomopathogenic nematodes can therefore not target attraction to caryophyllene.

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