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The Attraction of Spodoptera frugiperda Neonates to Cowpea Seedlings is Mediated by Volatiles Induced by Conspecific Herbivory and the Elicitor Inceptin

Carroll, Mark J., Schmelz, Eric A., Teal, Peter E. A.
Journal of chemical ecology 2008 v.34 no.3 pp. 291
Spodoptera frugiperda, neonates, instars, Vigna unguiculata, cowpeas, seedlings, volatile compounds, odors, terpenoids, leaves, chemical constituents of plants, plant damage, host seeking, dispersal behavior, olfactometry
Neonate fall armyworms [FAW; Spodoptera frugiperda (Smith)] often encounter conspecific herbivore damage as they disperse from an egg mass to an initial feeding site. We investigated the orientation responses of dispersing neonates to herbivore damage in cowpea seedlings, specifically examining whether neonate behaviors were affected by inceptin, the primary elicitor of FAW-induced defenses in cowpea leaves. We focused on responses to damage caused by conspecific first instars, as might occur during the dispersal of siblings from an egg mass. Inceptin contents of damaging first instar FAW were controlled through their diets, with leaf-fed FAW producing inceptins in their oral secretions, and root-fed or starved FAW lacking these elicitors. In a bioassay designed to evaluate neonate dispersal off a host plant, a higher percentage of neonates remained on herbivore-induced or inceptin-treated plants than on undamaged plants, mechanically damaged plants, freshly damaged plants, or on plants damaged by FAW lacking inceptins. Further investigations of neonate responses to plant odors with a four-arm olfactometer demonstrated that neonate attraction to odors from 4-h old FAW damage was strongly dependent on previous diet of the damaging larvae. Neonates were attracted to odors from 4-h old FAW damage over odors from undamaged plants or fresh FAW damage, provided that the damaging larvae had previously ingested leaf material. In a direct comparison of odors from induced plants, plants damaged by leaf-fed FAW were as attractive as plants treated with synthetic inceptin. GC-MS analysis confirmed that (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT) was the major volatile induced by FAW herbivory. While both DMNT and undamaged plant odors were more attractive than air, neonates preferred DMNT-supplemented plant odors. These results suggest that neonate FAW exploit herbivore-induced plant volatiles as host plant location and recognition cues.