Insect egg deposition induces Pinus sylvestris to attract egg parasitoids
Summary. Plant volatiles released in response to feeding insects are known to attract enemies of the feeding herbivores. In this study, egg deposition by a herbivorous insect was shown to induce a gymnosperm plant to emit volatiles that attract egg parasitoids. Odour from twigs of Pinus sylvestris laden with egg masses of the pine sawfly Diprion pini attracts the eulophid egg parasitoid Chrysonotomyia ruforum. Volatiles released from pine twigs without diprionid eggs are not attractive. Oviposition by the sawfly onto pine needles induces not only a local response in pine needles laden with eggs but also a systemic reaction. Needles without eggs but adjacent to those bearing diprionid eggs also release the volatiles that attract the egg parasitoid. The elicitor of the attractive volatiles was shown to be present in the oviduct secretion coating the eggs of D. pini. When pine twigs are treated with jasmonic acid, a well-known plant wound signal, they emit volatiles that attract the egg parasitoid. These results show, for the first time, that a gymnosperm plant is able to attract parasitoids as soon as a herbivore has deposited its eggs on it. Thus, the plant appears to defend itself against herbivores prior to being damaged by feeding larvae.