Indirect plant defences are well documented for the above-ground constituents of plants. Although less investigated to date, below-ground defences that mediate multitrophic interactions are equally important. Entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernema diaprepesi) are attracted to herbivore-induced volatiles from Swingle var. (Citrus paradisi×Poncirus trifoliata) when fed upon by root weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus. We examined the extent to which below-ground volatiles modify behaviour of nematode species representing various foraging strategies (cruisers versus ambushers) and trophic levels (plant parasites versus entomopathogens). We compared attraction to volatiles of weevil-infested and non-infested roots from Swingle citrus rootstock and a parent line of the Swingle hybrid, Poncirus trifoliata (Pt). Swingle weevil-infested roots attracted more nematodes than non-infested roots irrespective of nematode foraging strategy and trophic status. The parental line, Pt, attracted all nematode species irrespective of insect herbivory. Dynamic in situ collection and GC-MS analysis of volatiles from soil revealed that Pt roots release attracting cues constitutively. A different non-hybrid citrus species (sour orange, Citrus aurantium) released nematode attracting cues only in response to larval feeding, similar to responses found in Swingle. Volatile collections from above- and below-ground portions of citrus plants revealed that above-ground feeding by weevils does not induce production of nematode attracting cues analogous to that induced by root damage, nor does damage by larvae below-ground induce a similar volatile above ground. Synthesis. Our results suggest that release of nematode attractants by citrus roots occurs broadly and can be constant or herbivore-induced. The major constituent of this indirect defence is produced by roots and not shoots and in response to below-ground, but not above-ground herbivory. Our findings suggest that this cue acts on nematode species broadly, attracting entomopathogenic nematodes that exhibit various foraging strategies. Unexpectedly, we also found that this cue attracts a plant parasitic nematode species. It appears, thus, that release of nematode attracting cues by citrus plants can cause ecological costs. The plants, however, appear to counteract against these costs, because constitutive release was found only in a cultivar that is resistant to phytopathogenic nematodes, while herbivore-induced release occurred in lines susceptible to pathogenic nematode species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science