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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Effects of Methyl Salicylate on Host Plant Acceptance and Feeding by the Aphid Rhopalosiphum padi

Ninkovic, Velemir; Glinwood, Robert; Unlu, Ayse Gul; Ganji, Suresh; Unelius, C. Rikard


Methyl salicylate (MeSA) is a volatile shown to act as an inducer of plant defense against pathogens and certain herbivores, particularly aphids. It has been shown to have potential for aphid pest management, but knowledge on its mode of action is lacking, particularly induced plant-mediated effects. This study investigated the effects of exposing plants to MeSA on the host searching, host acceptance and feeding behavior of the bird cherry-oat aphid Rhopalosiphum padi. Barley plants were exposed to volatile MeSA for 24 h, after which biological effects were tested immediately after the exposure (Day 0), and then 1, 3 and 5 days after the end of the exposure. Aphid settling on MeSA-exposed plants was significantly reduced on days 0, 1 and 3, but not on day 5. In olfactometer tests, aphids preferred the odor of unexposed plants on days 1 and 3, but not on day 0 or 5. Analysis of volatiles from exposed and unexposed plants showed higher levels of MeSA from exposed plants, most likely absorbed and re-released from plant surfaces, but also specific changes in other plant volatiles on days 0, 1 and 3. High doses of MeSA did not affect aphid orientation in an olfactometer, but lower doses were repellent. Analysis of aphid feeding by Electronic penetration graph (EPG) showed that MeSA exposure resulted in resistance factors in barley plants, including surface factors and induced systemic factors in other tissues including the phloem. The results support the potential of MeSA as a potential tool for management of aphid pests.


plant defense; plant resistance; herbivores; plant volatiles; VOCs; olfactory response; semiochemicals; methly salicylic acid

Published in

Frontiers in Plant Science
2021, Volume: 12, article number: 710268