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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Altered volatile emission of pear trees under elevated atmospheric CO2 levels has no relevance to pear psyllid host choice

Gallinger, Jannicke; Rid-Moneta, Margit; Becker, Christine; Reineke, Annette; Gross, Juergen


The impact of climate change drivers on cultivated plants and pest insects has come into research focus. One of the most significant drivers is atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is converted into primary plant metabolites by photosynthesis. Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations therefore affect plant chemistry. The chemical composition of non-volatile and volatile organic compounds of plants is used by insects to locate and identify suitable host plants for feeding and reproduction. We investigated whether elevated CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere affect the plant-pest interaction in a fruit crop of high economic importance in Europe. Therefore, potted pear trees were cultivated under specified CO2 conditions in a Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) facility at Geisenheim University in Germany for up to 14 weeks, beginning from bud swelling. We compared emitted volatiles from these pear trees cultivated for 7 and 14 weeks under two different CO2 levels (ambient: ca. 400 ppm and elevated: ca. 450 ppm CO2) and their impact on pest insect behavior. In total, we detected and analyzed 76 VOCs from pear trees. While we did not detect an overall change in VOC compositions, the relative release of single compounds changed in response to CO2 increase. Differences in VOC release were inconsistent over time (phenology stages) and between study years, indicating interactions with other climate parameters, such as temperature. Even though insect-plant interaction can rely on specific volatile compounds and specific mixtures of compounds, respectively, the changes of VOC patterns in our field study did not impact the host choice behavior of C. pyri females. In olfactometer trials, 64% and 60% of the females preferred the odor of pear trees cultivated under elevated CO2 for 7 and 14 weeks, respectively, over the odor from pear trees cultivated under ambient CO2. In binary-choice oviposition assays, C. pyri females laid most eggs on pears during April 2020; on average, 51.9 (+/- 51.3) eggs were laid on pears cultivated under eCO(2) and 60.3 (+/- 48.7) eggs on aCO(2.)


Climate change; CO2 increase; Fruit production; Insect-plant interaction; Olfaction; Oviposition; Plant volatiles; Pear psyllid

Published in

Environmental Science and Pollution Research
2023, Volume: 30, number: 15, pages: 43740-43751

    SLU Authors

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG13 Climate action

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

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