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Defensive Function of Herbivore-Induced Plant Volatile Emissions in Nature

Science  16 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5511, pp. 2141-2144
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5511.2141

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Abstract

Herbivore attack is known to increase the emission of volatiles, which attract predators to herbivore-damaged plants in the laboratory and agricultural systems. We quantified volatile emissions fromNicotiana attenuata plants growing in natural populations during attack by three species of leaf-feeding herbivores and mimicked the release of five commonly emitted volatiles individually. Three compounds (cis-3-hexen-1-ol, linalool, and cis-α-bergamotene) increased egg predation rates by a generalist predator; linalool and the complete blend decreased lepidopteran oviposition rates. As a consequence, a plant could reduce the number of herbivores by more than 90% by releasing volatiles. These results confirm that indirect defenses can operate in nature.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: baldwin{at}ice.mpg.de

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