A six-arm olfactometer permitting simultaneous observation of insect attraction and odour trapping

Authors

  • Ted C. J. Turlings,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Entomology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland and
      Dr Ted C. J. Turlings, University of Neuchâtel, Institute of Zoology, Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Entomology, C.P.2, CH-2007 Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 32 718 3158; fax: +41 32 718 3001; e-mail: ted.turlings@unine.ch
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  • A. C. Davison,

    1. Institute of Mathematics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland
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  • Cristina TamÒ

    1. Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Entomology, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland and
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Dr Ted C. J. Turlings, University of Neuchâtel, Institute of Zoology, Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Entomology, C.P.2, CH-2007 Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 32 718 3158; fax: +41 32 718 3001; e-mail: ted.turlings@unine.ch

Abstract

Abstract.  Behavioural assays to study insect attraction to specific odours are tedious, time consuming and often require large numbers of replications. Olfactometer and flight tunnel tests can usually only be conducted with one or two odour sources at a time. Moreover, chemical information on the odour sources has to be obtained in separate analytical studies. An olfactometer was developed in which six odours can be tested simultaneously for their relative attractiveness while during the assays, part of each test odour can be trapped for further analyses. The effectiveness of this six-arm olfactometer was tested by observing the responses of the solitary endoparasitoid Cotesia marginiventris (Cresson) to host-induced odours from young maize plants. For statistical analyses, we used log-linear models were adapted to account for overdispersion and possible positional biases. Female wasps responded extremely well in tests where they were offered a single odour source, as well as in tests with multiple choices. The responses of wasps released in groups were the same as those released individually and it was found that females did not attract or repel each other, but males preferred arms in which females had been released. Dose–response tests with varying numbers of plants or host larvae on plants revealed that the wasps responded in a dose-related manner, thus showing that the system is well suited to measure relative preference. The clear choices of the insects amongst six possibilities provided substantial statistical power. Gas chromatographic analyses of sampled air revealed clean and effective odour trapping, which largely facilitates the comparison of results from behavioural assays with the actual blends of volatiles that were emitted by the various odour sources. Advantages and disadvantages compared to other methods are discussed.

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