Multitrophic Interactions and Chemical Ecology: Belowground induced plant responses and indirect defense

Jared Gregory Ali
Department of Entomology, Michigan State University

Presented at the All Scientists Meeting (2015-04-15 to 2015-04-16 )

Often interactions between plants herbivores and their natural enemies are studied in aboveground contexts. A major component of research in the Ali lab is understanding mechanisms that allow belowground invertebrates to find their hosts, and examine the potential to manipulate the behavior of these organisms with volatiles and trophic cascades in response to plant induced responses. In response to herbivore feeding, damaged plants release odors that attract natural enemies of herbivorous insects. Presented here are developed techniques and data demonstrating that roots fed upon by, root-herbivores release volatiles that attracts Entomopathogenic nematodes in multiple bioassays. Isolation, identification, and deployment of these chemicals in the field increased larval mortality by attracting EPNs. Further analysis using real-time qPCR we evaluated the potential for this cue to attract nematode ‘hyperparasitoids’ and nematophagous fungi. We provide the evidence showing subterranean herbivore induced plant volatiles behave much the same as those aboveground, attracting not only parasitoids, but also hyperparasites and other food web members. We are currently looking into how specific these induced responses are to belowgroud herbivores, and how additional plant defenses associated with herbivores influence the third trophic level.

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