Specificity of systemically released cotton volatiles as attractants for specialist and generalist parasitic wasps

Ursula S.R. Röse, W. Joe Lewis, James H. Tumlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

122 Scopus citations


Cotton plants under herbivore attack release volatile semiochemicals that attract natural enemies of the herbivores to the damaged plant. The volatiles released in response to herbivory are not only released from the damaged leaves but from the entire cotton plant. We found that cotton plants that released myrcene, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, (E)-β-ocimene, linalool, (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, (E)-β-farnesene, and (E, E)-4,8,12-trimethyl-1,3,7,11-tridecatetraene systemically from undamaged leaves of caterpillar dammed plants were atractive to the generalist parasitoid Cotesia marginiventris and the specialist parasitoid Microplitis croceipes. Plants from which the caterpillar damaged leaves were removed and that released those compounds systemically were significantly preferred over undamaged control plants in two-choice experiments in a flight tunnel. Artificially damaged cotton plants that released green leafy volatiles and constitutive terpenoids were less attractive for M. croceipes and C. marginiventris. Only C. marginiventris preferred artificially damaged plants over undamaged control plants, whereas M. croceipes showed no preference. The apparent lack of specificity of systemically released compounds in response to different herbivores feeding on the lower leaves is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-319
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry

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