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Herbivore‐induced plant volatiles allow detection of Trichoplusia ni (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) infestation on greenhouse tomato plants

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BACKGROUND: Monitoring of insect populations is an important component of integrated pest management and typically is based on the presence and number of insects in various development stages. Yet plants respond to insect herbivory and release herbivore‐induced plant volatiles (HIPVs), which could be exploited in monitoring systems. The present objective was to investigate whether the information associated with HIPVs has potential to become part of advanced technologies for monitoring pest insect populations.

RESULTS: In a laboratory experiment, it was determined that tomato plants, Lycopersicon esculentum Mill cv. clarence, each infested with 20 caterpillars of the cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hübner), emit HIPVs, of which (Z)‐3‐hexenyl acetate, (E)‐‐ocimene and ‐caryophyllene were selected as chemicals indicative of herbivory. Using an ultrafast portable gas chromatograph (zNose) in a research greenhouse and in a commercial greenhouse, it was possible (i) to reveal differential emissions of these three indicator chemicals from plants with or without herbivory, (ii) to detect herbivory within 6 h of its onset, (iii) to track changes in indicator chemical emissions over time and (iv) to study the effect of environmental and crop‐maintenance‐related factors on the emission of indicator chemicals.

CONCLUSION: HIPVs appear to be promising as reliable indicators of plant health, but further studies are needed to fully understand the potential of this concept. Copyright © 2010 Society of Chemical Industry

Keywords: HIPVs; Trichoplusia ni; greenhouse tomato; pest monitoring; zNose™

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-08-01

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