updated on 25@Jun, 2001
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1986 Dr. of Agriculture, Kyoto University
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Tritrophic interactions consisting of plants, herbivorous arthropods and carnivorous natural enemies of herbivores.
When plants are infested by herbivores, they start emitting a specific blend of volatiles (herbivore-induced volatiles) that attract carnivorous natural enemies of herbivores. We studied such plant-carnivore interactions in 2 types of tritrophic systems: one consisting of plants, herbivorous mites and predaceous phytoseiid mites; and another consisting of plants, caterpillars and endoparasitic wasps. The following is a summary of the results of the present study.
- Blends of herbivore-induced volatiles were specific to plant species, plant cultivars, plant developmental stage, herbivore species and herbivore developmental stage. This specificity affected the carnivores' searching efficiency.
- There were cases in which the production of herbivore-induced plant volatiles was adaptive to plants, and cases in which the production was maladaptive to them.
- Herbivore-induced volatiles attracted carnivores not only under laboratory conditions but also under field conditions.
- The presence of both prey and nonprey species on the same plant affected the degree to which prey-induced plant volatiles were attractive to carnivores, and also affected the oviposition preferences of female herbivores.
- Carnivores react to specific blends of herbivore-induced volatiles.
- We studied the molecular mechanisms of the production of herbivore-induced plant volatiles, and found that both a jasmonic acid-related signaling pathway and salicylic acid-related signaling pathway were involved in production.
- We observed plant-plant interactions that were mediated by herbivore-induced plant volatiles.
These results show that it is important to take into account not only life-and-death struggles but also (mutualistic) information transfer between organisms, in order to understand ecosystems. In future studies, we will attempt to clarify infochemical interaction networks in ecosystems.
Keywords : chemical ecology, tritrophic interactions, infochemicals, networks, indirect effects, natural enemies, biological control
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