Arthropod-Plant Interactions

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 117–125 | Cite as

Red-rot infection in sugarcane attenuates the attractiveness of sugarcane borer-induced plant volatiles to parasitoid

  • Maria Fernanda G. V. PeñaflorEmail author
  • José Mauricio S. Bento
Original Paper


Fungal phytopathogens are known to induce changes in plant metabolite profile and defense levels that consequently affect insect herbivores. Although it is expected that fungal plant infection may also affect herbivore natural enemies that are guided by plant chemical cues, few studies have addressed this interaction. Here, we examined the effect of infection in sugarcane by the red-rot fungus, which is usually associated with the injury of the sugarcane-borer Diatraea saccharalis, on plant defenses by assessing borer weight gain and the attractiveness of herbivore-induced plant volatiles to the parasitoid Cotesia flavipes. Olfactometer assays and GC–MS analysis showed that although red-rot-infected plants released a different volatile blend from mock-inoculated, the wasps showed no preference for either of the two treatments. Red-rot disease also caused qualitative and quantitative changes in the volatile blend emitted by herbivore-damaged plants relative to healthy and damaged plants, such as the addition of the fungal-derived 1-octen-3-ol and either a reduction or an increase of volatiles. These differences were detected by C. flavipes, which preferred volatiles released by herbivore-damaged healthy over herbivore-damaged infected plants. When given a choice between mock-inoculated and herbivore-damaged infected plants, the wasps preferred infected ones. Sugarcane-borer larvae were larger when fed on healthy plants relative to red-rot infected sugarcane plants, indicating that parasitoid wasps likely benefit from being attracted to volatiles of healthy over infected damaged sugarcane. Although the infection did not seem to disrupt the parasitoid host-location, red-rot disease attenuates the attractiveness of herbivore-induced sugarcane volatiles to C. flavipes.


Fungal phytopathogen Herbivore-induced plant volatiles Tritrophic interactions Diatraea saccharalis Host location 



Herbivore-induced plant volatile


Red-rot infected plants


Herbivore-damaged infected plants


Herbivore-damaged healthy plants



We thank Dr. Maria Cristina Falco and Dr. Enrico De Beni Arrigoni (Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira, Piracicaba, SP) for providing sugarcane one-eye seed sets, and Dr. Ane H. Medeiros (UFSCar, Araras, SP) for the fungal isolate. We also thank Arodí Prado and Solange Barros (USP-ESALQ) for technical assistance and Dr. Italo Delalibera (USP-ESALQ) for providing facilities. MFGVP and JMSB were funded by the Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP Process 2012/12252-1 and 2013/11993-0).


This study was funded by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP Process 2013/05367-0) and the National Institute of Science and Technology (INCT) Semiochemicals in Agriculture (CNPq Process 573761/2008-6 and FAPESP Process 2008/57701-2).

Supplementary material

11829_2018_9629_MOESM1_ESM.docx (191 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 191 KB)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Entomology and Acarology, Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture (ESALQ/USP)University of São PauloPiracicabaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyFederal University of Lavras (UFLA)LavrasBrazil

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