Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (3): 477-483, 2008 | 10.14411/eje.2008.061

Plant chemistry and aphid parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Braconidae): Imprinting and memory

Helmut F. van EMDEN1, Andrew P. STORECK2, Sophia DOULOUMPAKA1, Ioannis ELEFTHERIANOS1, Guy M. POPPY3, Wilf POWELL2
1 School of Biological Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6AJ, UK; e-mail: h.f.vanemden@reading.ac.uk
2 Plant and Invertebrate Ecology Department, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire, AL5 2JQ, UK; e-mail: wilf.powell@bbsrc.ac.uk
3 School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK. e-mail: gmp@soton.ac.uk

Emerging parasitoids of aphids encounter secondary plant chemistry from cues left by the mother parasitoid at oviposition and from the plant-feeding of the host aphid. In practice, however, it is secondary plant chemistry on the surface of the aphid mummy which influences parasitoid olfactory behaviour. Offspring of Aphidius colemani reared on Myzus persicae on artificial diet did not distinguish between the odours of bean and cabbage, but showed a clear preference for cabbage odour if sinigrin had been painted on the back of the mummy. Similarly Aphidius rhopalosiphi reared on Metopolophium dirhodum on wheat preferred the odour of wheat plants grown near tomato plants to odour of wheat alone if the wheat plants on which they had been reared had been exposed to the volatiles of nearby tomato plants. Aphidius rhopalosiphi reared on M. dirhodum, and removed from the mummy before emergence, showed a preference for the odour of a different wheat cultivar if they had contacted a mummy from that cultivar, and similar results were obtained with A. colemani naturally emerged from M. persicae mummies. Aphidius colemani emerged from mummies on one crucifer were allowed to contact in sequence (for 45 min each) mummies from two different crucifers. The number of attacks made in 10 min on M. persicae was always significantly higher when aphids were feeding on the same plant as the origin of the last mummy offered, or on the second plant if aphids feeding on the third plant were not included. Chilling emerged A. colemani for 24 h at 5C appeared to erase the imprint of secondary plant chemistry, and they no longer showed host plant odour preferences in the olfactometer. When the parasitoids were chilled after three successive mummy experiences, memory of the last experience appeared at least temporarily erased and preference was then shown for the chemistry of the second experience.

Keywords: Braconidae, aphid parasitoid, Aphidius colemani, imprinting, memory, secondary compounds

Received: October 23, 2007; Accepted: March 13, 2008; Published: July 31, 2008

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