Faculté des sciences

Minor effects of two elicitors of insect and pathogen resistance on volatile emissions and parasitism of Spodoptera frugiperda in Mexican maize fields

von Mérey, Georg ; Veyrat, Nathalie ; de Lange, Elvira S. ; Degen, Thomas ; Mahuku, George ; Lopez Valdez, Raymundo ; Turlings, Ted C. J. ; D’Alessandro, Marco

In: Biological Control, 2012, vol. 60, no. 1, p. 7-15

Synthetic elicitors can be used to induce resistance in plants against pathogens and arthropod herbivores. Such compounds may also change the emission of herbivore-induced plant volatiles, which serve as important cues for parasitic wasps to locate their hosts. Therefore, the use of elicitors in the field may affect biological control of insect pests. To test this, we treated maize seedlings... Plus

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    Summary
    Synthetic elicitors can be used to induce resistance in plants against pathogens and arthropod herbivores. Such compounds may also change the emission of herbivore-induced plant volatiles, which serve as important cues for parasitic wasps to locate their hosts. Therefore, the use of elicitors in the field may affect biological control of insect pests. To test this, we treated maize seedlings growing in a subtropical field in Mexico with methyl jasmonate (MeJA), an elicitor of defense responses against many insects, and benzo-(1,2,3)-thiadiazole-7-carbothioic acid S-methyl ester (BTH), an elicitor of resistance against certain pathogens. Volatile emission, herbivore infestation, pathogen infection, and plant performance (growth and grain yield) of treated and untreated maize plants were measured. Application of BTH slightly reduced volatile emission in maize, while MeJA increased the emission compared to control treatments. Despite the apparent changes in volatile emissions, the elicitor application did not consistently affect infestation by Spodoptera frugiperda larvae, the main insect pest found on the maize seedlings, and had only marginal effects on parasitism rates. Similarly, there were no treatment effects on infestation by other herbivores and pathogens. Results for the six replications that stretched over one summer and one winter season were highly variable, with parasitism rates and the species composition of the parasitoids differing significantly between seasons. This variability, as well as the severe biotic and abiotic stresses on young seedlings might explain why we measured only slight effects of elicitor application on pest incidence and biological control in this specific field study. Indeed, an additional field experiment under milder and more standardized conditions revealed that BTH induced significant resistance against Bipolaris maydis, a major pathogen in the experimental maize fields. Similar affects can be expected for herbivory and parasitism rates.