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Synergism between aromatic compounds and green leaf volatiles derived from the host plant underlies female attraction in the oriental fruit moth

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*Correspondence: E-mail: silvia.dorn@ipw.agrl.ethz.ch

Abstract

Blends of volatile compounds emitted by host plants are known to mediate the attraction of gravid female herbivores to oviposition sites, but the role of individual odor components is still little understood. We characterized the olfactory response of mated female Cydia (Grapholita) molesta (Busck) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) to synthetic mixtures of compounds emitted by peach shoot, a key host plant of this herbivore, and investigated the role of important constituents of bioactive mixtures in moth attraction. Relative ratios of constituents of the mixtures corresponded to the natural ratio of volatile compounds collected in the plant's headspace. A significant attractant effect was found for a comparatively complex 10-compound mixture that included four green leaf volatiles [(Z)-3-hexen-1-ol, 1-hexanol, (E)-2-hexenal, and (Z)-3-hexen-1-yl acetate], five aromatics (benzaldehyde, methyl salicylate, methyl benzoate, benzonitrile, and phenylacetonitrile), and a carboxylic acid (valeric acid). Using a subtraction approach, the number of compounds was progressively decreased, resulting in a bioactive 5-compound mixture composed of two constituents, green leaf volatiles and aromatic compounds. Further evaluations revealed that benzaldehyde and benzonitrile must be present in association with three distinct green leaf volatiles to produce an attractant effect on the female moths. This 5-compound mixture was as attractive as natural peach shoot volatiles, which are known to comprise over 20 compounds. Results are discussed in light of the documented synergistic effect between the three general green leaf volatiles and the two specific aromatic compounds.

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