Abstract Detail

Symbioses: Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions

Pak, Ji-Hyun [1], Aguirre, Luis [2], Adler, Lynn [2], Theis, Nina [3].

Leaf damage increases the floral volatiles of common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca.

The attraction of pollinators to their preferred plants can be altered by the presence of an herbivore. Herbivory can directly deter pollinators by damaging plant tissue; it can also induce chemical signaling with consequences for mutualists. Leaf damage can induce leaf volatiles that attract parasitoid wasps. The effect of leaf damage on floral volatiles is less well studied. If herbivory affects floral signals, the attraction of pollinators could be affected. We measured the effects of herbivory on the floral volatiles of the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca. We hypothesized that leaf herbivory on milkweed would alter volatile emissions. Floral scent could be dampened due to damage, or increased due to induced defenses systemically increasing floral volatile production. Herbivory was simulated on the common milkweed through mechanical and chemical means. A month later, scent was collected by dynamic headspace sampling from A. syriaca inflorescences and analyzed on a GC-MS. Six compounds were significantly elevated in the flowers from damaged plants compared to control plants, including benzyl alcohol, phenylethyl alcohol, and methyl salicylate. This increase could be beneficial to plants if the third trophic level reduces herbivore damage to the plant, or increases pollinator attraction. Further research should be conducted to better understand plant biosynthetic pathways and their implications for parasitoid and pollinator attraction. Overall, the herbivore-induced volatile emissions could have ecological implications at the community level. 

1 - Elms College, Biology, 291 Springfield St, Chicopee, MA, 01013, USA
2 - UMass Amherst, Biology, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA
3 - Elms College, Biology, 291 Springfield St, Chicopee, MA, 01013, United States

Chemical Ecology

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P, Symbioses: Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions Posters
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM Time and date to be determined
Number: PSM002
Abstract ID:565
Candidate for Awards:None

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