Arthropod-Plant Interactions (2014) 8, 171-181

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Dimitrije Markovic, Robert Glinwood, Ulf Olsson and Velemir Ninkovic (2014)
Plant response to touch affects the behaviour of aphids and ladybirds
Arthropod-Plant Interactions 8 (3), 171-181
Abstract: Touching between leaves of the same plant and/or by neighbouring plants is one of the most common mechanical stimuli to which an individual plant has to respond on a daily basis. The possible ecological implications of a plant's response to touch on plant-insect interactions have not been explicitly investigated. We examined whether plant response to 1 min daily touching over a period of 6 days affects host plant acceptance by the bird cherry-oat aphid Rhopalosiphum padi L. on maize and by the black bean aphid Aphis fabae Scop. on bean, as well as olfactory preference of an aphid predator, seven-spotted ladybird Coccinella septempunctata L. Maize plants responded to touch with significant reduction in plant height, total plant biomass, leaf weight, leaf surface, shoot/root ratio and specific leaf area (SLA), while bean plants responded with reduced stem height and reduced SLA. Both aphid species showed significantly reduced acceptance of touched plants compared with untouched plants. The two aphid species and male and female ladybirds preferred volatiles from untouched plants over those from touched plants. Volatiles in the headspace of touched and untouched plants were collected and identified. Stepwise discriminant analyses identified (E)-nerolidol and (E)-β-caryophyllene in maize and 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one and an unidentified sesquiterpene in bean as the best discriminating compounds in the volatile profiles of touched plants. Our study suggests that touch-induced changes in plants can potentially affect host plant selection by aphids and habitat searching by ladybirds. Thus, touch-induced changes in plants may have significant effects at higher trophic levels.
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Database assignments for author(s): Velemir Ninkovic

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
environment - cropping system/rotation
Research topic(s) for beneficials or antagonists:
environment/habitat manipulation


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.
Aphis fabae Beans (Phaseolus)
Rhopalosiphum padi Maize/corn (Zea mays)
Coccinella septempunctata (predator) Sweden