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The Predatory Mite Phytoseiulus persimilis Does Not Perceive Odor Mixtures As Strictly Elemental Objects

van Wijk, Michiel, de Bruijn, Paulien J. A., Sabelis, Maurice W.
Journal of chemical ecology 2010 v.36 no.11 pp. 1211-1225
Phytoseiulus persimilis, Tetranychus urticae, arsenic, leaves, models, odors, predatory mites, vision
Phytoseiulus persimilis is a predatory mite that in absence of vision relies on the detection of herbivore-induced plant odors to locate its prey, the two-spotted spider-mite Tetranychus urticae. This herbivorous prey is feeding on leaves of a wide variety of plant species in different families. The predatory mites respond to numerous structurally different compounds. However, typical spider-mite induced plant compounds do not attract more predatory mites than plant compounds not associated with prey. Because the mites are sensitive to many compounds, components of odor mixtures may affect each other's perception. Although the response to pure compounds has been well documented, little is known how interactions among compounds affect the response to odor mixtures. We assessed the relation between the mites' responses elicited by simple mixtures of two compounds and by the single components of these mixtures. The preference for the mixture was compared to predictions under three conceptual models, each based on one of the following assumptions: (1) the responses elicited by each of the individual components can be added to each other; (2) they can be averaged; or (3) one response overshadows the other. The observed response differed significantly from the response predicted under the additive response, average response, and overshadowing response model in 52, 36, and 32% of the experimental tests, respectively. Moreover, the behavioral responses elicited by individual compounds and their binary mixtures were determined as a function of the odor concentration. The relative contribution of each component to the behavioral response elicited by the mixture varied with the odor concentration, even though the ratio of both compounds in the mixture was kept constant. Our experiments revealed that compounds that elicited no response had an effect on the response elicited by binary mixtures that they were part of. The results are not consistent with the hypothesis that P. persimilis perceives odor mixtures as a collection of strictly elemental objects. They suggest that odor mixtures rather are perceived as one synthetic whole.