Sensory Ecology of Arthropods Utilizing Plant Infochemicals

  • Joop J. A. van Loon
  • Marcel Dicke
Conference paper


Herbivorous and carnivorous arthropods are confronted with the highly diverse chemistry that the plant world offers. The majority of herbivores displays very specialized host-plant selection behavior which has its sensory basis in specialized olfactory and gustatory cells that specifically respond to plant taxon-specific substances. The production of volatile compounds by plants is prone to variation caused by a range of abiotic and biotic factors. Predators and parasitoids, acting as the major natural enemies of herbivores, are likewise confronted with variability in food-related volatile stimuli. Rather than utilizing cues directly emanating from their food, they predominantly rely on plant-produced cues to locate prey or host from a distance. Plants respond to damage by herbivores by changes in composition of the volatile blend released. These herbivore-induced plant volatiles are used by carnivores to increase the efficiency of their foraging behavior. Although their chemosensory ecology is largely unexplored, recent studies suggest that also carnivorous arthropods possess chemoreceptors that are sensitive to herb ivoreinduced plant volatiles. Analyzing the degree of chemosensory specificity and plasticity in carnivorous arthropods in the context of their foraging behavior poses an appealing challenge for research in sensory ecology.

Key words

Insect-plant interactions olfaction searching mechanisms herbivore-induced synomones 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joop J. A. van Loon
    • 1
  • Marcel Dicke
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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