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Making scents of defense: Do fecal shields and herbivore-caused volatiles match host plant chemical profiles?
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Plant Physiology. Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC).
2013 (English)In: Chemoecology, ISSN 0937-7409, E-ISSN 1423-0445, Vol. 23, no 1, 1-11 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many plant families have aromatic species that produce volatile compounds which they release when damaged, particularly after suffering herbivory. Monarda fistulosa (Lamiaceae) makes and stores volatile essential oils in peltate glandular trichomes on leaf and floral surfaces. This study examined the larvae of a specialist tortoise beetle, Physonota unipunctata, which feed on two M. fistulosa chemotypes and incorporate host compounds into fecal shields, structures related to defense. Comparisons of shield and host leaf chemistry showed differences between chemotypes and structures (leaves vs. shields). Thymol chemotype leaves and shields contained more of all compounds that differed than did carvacrol chemotypes, except for carvacrol. Shields had lower levels of most of the more volatile chemicals than leaves, but more than twice the amounts of the phenolic monoterpenes thymol and carvacrol and greater totals. Additional experiments measured the volatiles emitted from M. fistulosa in the absence and presence of P. unipunctata larvae and compared the flower and foliage chemistry of plants from these experiments. Flowers contained lower or equal amounts of most compounds and half the total amount, compared to leaves. Plants subjected to herbivory emitted higher levels of most volatiles and 12 times the total amount, versus controls with no larvae, including proportionally more of the low boiling point chemicals. Thus, chemical profiles of shields and volatile emissions are influenced by the amounts and volatilities of compounds present in the host plant. The implications of these results are explored for the chemical ecology of both the plant and the insect. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 23, no 1, 1-11 p.
Keyword [en]
Aromatic plants, Herbivore-caused volatiles, Larval fecal shields, Monarda fistulosa, Physonota unipunctata, Terpenoids
National Category
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-67314DOI: 10.1007/s00049-012-0117-7OAI: diva2:611731
Available from: 2013-03-18 Created: 2013-03-15 Last updated: 2013-08-15Bibliographically approved

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Keefover-Ring, Kenneth
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Department of Plant PhysiologyUmeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC)
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