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Behavioural responses of wheat stem sawflies to wheat volatiles

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1 Adult wheat stem sawflies Cephus cinctus, pests of cultivated cereals that also infests wild grasses, migrate into wheat fields where they oviposit in elongating, succulent stems.

2 Volatiles released by wheat plants at susceptible stages were analyzed to determine potential semiochemical compounds. Seven major compounds were identified and quantified.

3 A Y-tube bioassay was developed to evaluate upwind orientation of adult sawflies in response to an airstream that passed over elongated wheat plants. The bioassay was also conducted with synthetic volatile compounds. The compounds were tested using a range of concentrations spanning those identified in the airstream passing over wheat plants.

4 A significant number of adult females were attracted to wheat plants when given a choice of either purified air or the air passing over plants.

5 A significant number of female C. cinctus were attracted to (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate, -ocimene, and (Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, but were repelled by 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one. Females did not respond to (E)-2-hexenal, or (E)-2-hexenyl acetate. The behavioural responses were concentration dependent; the highest tested concentration of (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate was repellent to females of this species.

6 Adult males did not discriminate between air passing over wheat plants and air from a purified airstream. Males did not respond to any tested synthetic compound at any concentration.

7 The present study demonstrates for the first time that adult females of wheat stem sawfly display innate behaviours in response to synthetic volatiles. These results provide a basis for the potential development of resistant wheat varieties and for the development of semiochemically-based pest management.

Keywords: Cephus cinctus; Triticum aestivum; Y-tube olfactometer; insect behaviour; semiochemicals; volatiles; wheat; wheat stem sawfly

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departments of Entomology 2: Land Resources and Environmental Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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