Volatile emissions triggered by multiple herbivore damage: Beet armyworm and whitefly feeding on cotton plants

Cesar Rodriguez-Saona, Steven J. Crafts-Brandner, Luis A. Cañas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Plants are commonly attacked by more than one species of herbivore, potentially causing the induction of multiple, and possibly competing, plant defense systems. In the present paper, we determined the interaction between feeding by the phloem feeder silverleaf whitefly (SWF), Bemisia tabaci Gennadius (B-biotype = B. argentifolii Bellows and Perring), and the leaf-chewing beet armyworm (BAW), Spodoptera exigua Hübner, with regard to the induction of volatile compounds from cotton plants. Compared to undamaged control plants, infestation with SWF did not induce volatile emissions or affect the number and density of pigment glands that store volatile and non-volatile terpenoid compounds, whereas infestation by BAW strongly induced plant volatile emission. When challenged by the two insect herbivores simultaneously, volatile emission was significantly less than for plants infested with only BAW. Our results suggest that tritrophic level interactions between cotton, BAW, and natural enemies of BAW, that are known to be mediated by plant volatile emissions, may be perturbed by simultaneous infestation by SWF. Possible mechanisms by which the presence of whiteflies may attenuate volatile emissions from caterpillar-damaged cotton plants are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2539-2550
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


  • Beet armyworm
  • Bemisia argentifolii
  • Cotton
  • Gossypium hirsutum
  • Herbivore-induced volatiles
  • Silverleaf whitefly
  • Spodoptera exigua


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