Spodoptera frugiperda Caterpillars Suppress Herbivore-Induced Volatile Emissions in Maize

De Lange, Elvira S.; Laplanche, Diane; Guo, Huijuan; Xu, Wei; Vlimant, Michèle; Erb, Matthias; Ton, Jurriaan; Turlings, Ted C. J. (2020). Spodoptera frugiperda Caterpillars Suppress Herbivore-Induced Volatile Emissions in Maize. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 46(3), pp. 344-360. Springer 10.1007/s10886-020-01153-x

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The vast spectrum of inducible plant defenses can have direct negative effects on herbivores, or indirect effects, for instance in the form of herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) that attract natural enemies. Various arthropods have evolved ways to suppress plant defenses. To test whether this is the case for caterpillar-induced HIPVs, we compared the volatile induction by Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), which is particularly well adapted to feed on maize (Zea mays), with the induction by three more generalist noctuid larvae. We tested the hypothesis that S. frugiperda suppresses HIPV emissions in maize, and thereby reduces attractiveness to natural enemies. HIPV emissions triggered by S. frugiperda when feeding on maize were indeed found to be significantly weaker than by Spodoptera littoralis, Spodoptera exigua, and Helicoverpa armigera. The suppression seems specific for maize, as we found no evidence for this when S. frugiperda caterpillars fed on cotton (Gossypium herbaceum). Artificially damaged maize plants treated with larval regurgitant revealed that HIPV suppression may be related to factors in the caterpillars' oral secretions. We also found evidence that differential physical damage that the caterpillars inflict on maize leaves may play a role. The suppressed induction of HIPVs had no apparent consequences for the attraction of a common parasitoid of S. frugiperda, Cotesia marginiventris (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Nevertheless, the ability to manipulate the defenses of its main host plant may have contributed to the success of S. frugiperda as a major pest of maize, especially in Africa and Asia, which it has recently invaded.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biotic Interactions
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Erb, Matthias


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)








Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Feb 2020 15:23

Last Modified:

05 May 2022 17:37

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Cotesia marginiventris; Cotton; Herbivore-induced plant volatiles; Maize; Parasitoids; Spodoptera exigua; Spodoptera frugiperda; Spodoptera littoralis; Tritrophic interactions





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