Beneficial soil-borne microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi or rhizobacteria, can affect the interactions of plants with aboveground insects at several trophic levels. While the mechanisms of interactions with herbivorous insects, that is, the second trophic level, are starting to be understood, it remains unknown how plants mediate the interactions between soil microbes and carnivorous insects, that is, the third trophic level. Using Arabidopsis thaliana Col-0 and the aphid Myzus persicae, we evaluate here the underlying mechanisms involved in the plant-mediated interaction between the non-pathogenic rhizobacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens and the parasitoid Diaeretiella rapae, by combining ecological, chemical and molecular approaches. Rhizobacterial colonization modifies the composition of the blend of herbivore-induced plant volatiles. The volatile blend from rhizobacteria-treated aphid-infested plants is less attractive to an aphid parasitoid, in terms of both olfactory preference behaviour and oviposition, than the volatile blend from aphid-infested plants without rhizobacteria. Importantly, the effect of rhizobacteria on both the emission of herbivore-induced volatiles and parasitoid response to aphid-infested plants is lost in an Arabidopsis mutant (aos/dde2-2) that is impaired in jasmonic acid production. By modifying the blend of herbivore-induced plant volatiles that depend on the jasmonic acid-signalling pathway, root-colonizing microbes interfere with the attraction of parasitoids of leaf herbivores.
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