Electroantennogram response of the parasitoid, Microplitis croceipes to host-related odors: The discrepancy between relative abundance and level of antennal responses to volatile compound

Tolulope Morawo, Matthew Burrows, Henry Fadamiro
F1000Research 2016, 5: 2725
Herbivores emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) after feeding on plants. Parasitoids exploit these VOCs as odor cues to locate their hosts. In nature, host-related odors are emitted as blends of various compounds occurring in different proportions, and minor blend components can sometimes have profound effects on parasitoid responses. In a previous related study, we identified and quantified VOCs emitted by cotton plant-fed Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) larvae, an herbivore host of the parasitoid Microplitis croceipes (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). In the present study, the olfactory response of female M. croceipes to synthetic versions of 15 previously identified compounds was tested in electroantennogram (EAG) bioassays. Using M. croceipes as a model species, we further asked the question: does the relative abundance of a volatile compound match the level of antennal response in parasitoids? Female M. croceipes showed varying EAG responses to test compounds, indicating different levels of bioactivity in the insect antenna. Eight compounds, including decanal, 1-octen-3-ol, 3-octanone, 2-ethylhexanol, tridecane, tetradecane, α-farnesene and bisabolene, elicited EAG responses above or equal to the 50 (th) percentile rank of all responses. Interestingly, decanal, which represented only 1% of the total amount of odors emitted by cotton-fed hosts, elicited the highest (0.82 mV) EAG response in parasitoids. On the other hand, ( E)-β-caryophyllene, the most abundant (29%) blend component, elicited a relatively low (0.17 mV) EAG response. The results suggest that EAG response to host-related volatiles in parasitoids is probably more influenced by the ecological relevance or functional role of the compound in the blend, rather than its relative abundance.

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