Abstract: The codling moth, Cydia pomonella L. (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae), is a major pest of apple, pear and walnut orchards worldwide. This pest is often controlled using the biologically friendly control method known as pheromone-based mating disruption. Mating disruption likely exerts selection on the sexual communication system of codling moth, as male and female moths will persist in their attempt to meet and mate. Surprisingly little is known on the intraspecific variation of sexual communication in this species. We started an investigation to determine the level of individual variation in the female sex pheromone composition of this moth and whether variation among different populations might be correlated with use of mating disruption against those populations. By extracting pheromone glands of individual females from a laboratory population in Canada and from populations from apple orchards in Spain and Italy, we found significant between- and within-population variation. Comparing females that had been exposed to mating disruption, or not, revealed a significant difference in sex pheromone composition for two of the minor components. Overall, the intraspecific variation observed shows the potential for a shift in female sexual signal when selection pressure is high, as is the case with continuous use of mating disruption.
Abstract: We investigated intraspecific aggression in experimental nests (expN1, expN2) of the giant honey bee Apis dorsata in Chitwan (Nepal), focusing on interactions between surface bees and two other groups of bees approaching the nest: (1) homing “nestmate” foragers landing on the bee curtain remained unmolested by guards; and (2) supposed “non-nestmate” bees, which were identified by their erratic flight patterns in front of the nest, such as hovering or sideways scanning and splaying their legs from their body, and were promptly attacked by the surface bees after landing. These supposed non-nestmate bees only occurred immediately before and after migration swarms, which had arrived in close vicinity (and were most likely scouting for a nesting site). In total, 231 of the “nestmate” foragers (fb) and 102 approaches of such purported “non-nestmate” scouts (sc) were analysed (total observation time expN1: 5.43 min) regarding the evocation of shimmering waves (sh). During their landing the “nestmate” foragers provoked less shimmering waves (relnsh[fb] = 23/231 = 0.0996, relnsh[sc] = 75/102 = 0.7353; p <0.001, χ2-test) with shorter duration (Dsh[fb] = 197 ± 17 ms, Dsh[sc] = 488 ± 16 ms; p <0.001; t-test) than “non-nestmates”. Moreover, after having landed on the nest surface, the “non-nestmates” were attacked by the surface bees (expN1, expN2: observation time >18 min) quite similarly to the defensive response against predatory wasps. Hence, the surface members of settled colonies respond differently to individual giant honey bees approaching the nest, depending on whether erratic flight patterns are displayed or not.
Abstract: The polyphagous feeding habits of the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), underscore its status as a major agricultural pest with a wide geographic distribution and host plant repertoire. To study the transcriptomic response to toxins in diet, we conducted a microarray analysis of H. zea caterpillars feeding on artificial diet, diet laced with nicotine and Nicotiana tabacum (L.) plants. We supplemented our analysis with growth and aversion bioassays. The transcriptome reflects an abundant expression of proteases, chitin, cytochrome P450 and immune-related genes, many of which are shared between the two experimental treatments. However, the tobacco treatment tended to elicit stronger transcriptional responses than nicotine-laced diet. The salivary factor glucose oxidase, known to suppress nicotine induction in the plant, was upregulated by H. zea in response to tobacco but not to nicotine-laced diet. Reduced caterpillar growth rates accompanied the broad regulation of genes associated with growth, such as juvenile hormone epoxide hydrolase. The differential expression of chemosensory proteins, such as odorant binding-protein-2 precursor, as well as the neurotransmitter nicotinic-acetylcholine-receptor subunit 9, highlights candidate genes regulating aversive behavior towards nicotine. We suggest that an observed coincidental rise in cannibalistic behavior and regulation of proteases and protease inhibitors in H. zea larvae signify a compensatory response to induced plant defenses.
Abstract: Plants are challenged by both above- and belowground herbivores which may indirectly interact with each other via herbivore-induced changes in plant traits; however, little is known about how genetic variation of the host plant shapes such interactions. We used two genotypes (M4 and E9) of Solanum dulcamara (Solanaceae) with or without previous experience of aboveground herbivory by Spodoptera exigua (Noctuidae) to quantify its effects on subsequent root herbivory by Agriotes spp. (Elateridae). In the genotype M4, due to the aboveground herbivory, shoot and root biomass was significantly decreased, roots had a lower C/N ratio and contained significantly higher levels of proteins, while the genotype E9 was not affected. However, aboveground herbivory had no effects on weight gain or mortality of the belowground herbivores. Root herbivory by Agriotes increased the nitrogen concentration in the roots of M4 plants leading to a higher weight gain of conspecific larvae. Also, in feeding bioassays, Agriotes larvae tended to prefer roots of M4 over E9, irrespective of the aboveground herbivore treatment. Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR) documented differences in metabolic profiles of the two plant genotypes and of the roots of M4 plants after aboveground herbivory. Together, these results demonstrate that previous aboveground herbivory can have genotype-specific effects on quantitative and qualitative root traits. This may have consequences for belowground interactions, although generalist root herbivores might not be affected when the root biomass offered is still sufficient for growth and survival.
Abstract: Despite the sanitary importance of the European house dust mite Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (Trouessart, 1897), the pheromonal communication in this species has not been sufficiently studied. Headspace analysis using solid phase micro extraction (SPME) revealed that nerol, neryl formate, pentadecane, (6Z,9Z)-6,9-heptadecadiene, and (Z)-8-heptadecene are released by both sexes whereas neryl propionate was released by males only. Tritonymphs did not produce any detectable volatiles. In olfactometer experiments, pentadecane and neryl propionate were attractive to both sexes as well as to tritonymphs. (Z)-8-heptadecene was only attractive to male mites. Therefore it is discussed that pentadecane and neryl propionate are aggregation pheromones and (Z)-8-heptadecene is a sexual pheromone of the European house dust mite D. pteronyssinus. To study the potential use of pheromones in dust mite control, long-range olfactometer experiments were conducted showing that mites can be attracted to neryl propionate over distances of at least 50 cm. This indicates that mite pheromones might be useable to monitor the presence or absence of mites in the context of control strategies.
Abstract: Free-flying honeybees acquire color information differently depending upon whether a target color is learnt in isolation (absolute conditioning), or in relation to a perceptually similar color (differential conditioning). Absolute conditioning allows for rapid learning, but color discrimination is coarse. Differential conditioning requires more learning trials, but enables fine discriminations. Currently it is unknown whether differential conditioning to similar colors in honeybees forms a long-term memory, and the stability of memory in a biologically relevant scenario considering similar or saliently different color stimuli. Individual free-flying honeybees (N = 6) were trained to similar color stimuli separated by 0.06 hexagon units for 60 trials and mean accuracy was 81.7% ± 12.2% s.d. Bees retested on subsequent days showed a reduction in the number of correct choices with increasing time from the initial training, and for four of the bees this reduction was significant from chance expectation considering binomially distributed logistic regression models. In contrast, an independent group of 6 bees trained to saliently different colors (>0.14 hexagon units) did not experience any decay in memory retention with increasing time. This suggests that whilst the bees’ visual system can permit fine discriminations, flowers producing saliently different colors are more easily remembered by foraging bees over several days.