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Identification of host-plant chemical stimuli for the European grape berry moth Eupoecilia ambiguella


Dr Patrick M. Guerin, Faculty of Sciences, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Tel.: +41 32 718 30 66; e-mail:


Olfaction is of major importance for survival and reproduction in moths. Males possess highly specific and sensitive olfactory receptor neurones to detect female sex pheromones. However, the capacity of male moths to respond to host-plant volatiles is relatively neglected and the role that such responses could play in the sensory ecology of moths is still not fully understood. The present study aims to identify host-plant stimuli for the European grape berry moth Eupoecilia ambiguella Hb. (Tortricidae, Lepidoptera), a major pest of vine in Europe. Headspace volatiles from Vitis vinifera L. cv. Pinot Noir, Vitis vinifera subsp. sylvestris and five other host-plant species comprising five different families are analyzed by gas chromatography linked to electroantennogram (EAG) recording from male E. ambiguella antennae and by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. This procedure identifies 32 EAG-active compounds, among them the aliphatic compounds 1-hexanol, (Z)-3-hexenol, (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate and 1-octen-3-ol; the terpenes limonene, β-caryophyllene and (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene; and the aromatic compounds benzaldehyde and methyl salicylate. Male and female E. ambiguella show similar EAG response amplitudes to individual chemical stimuli and also to mixtures of plant volatiles, as represented by essential oils from ten other plant species. This possibly indicates a common role for plant compounds in the sensory ecology of the two sexes of E. ambiguella.