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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Guatemalan potato moth Tecia solanivora distinguish odour profiles from qualitatively, different potatoes Solanum tuberosum L.

Karlsson, Miriam Frida; Birgersson, Göran; Witzgall, Peter; Stevens Lekfeldt Duus, Jonas; Punyasiri, Nimal; Bengtsson, Marie


Guatemalan potato moth, Tecia solanivora, lay eggs in the soil nearby potato Solanum spp. and larvae feed on the tubers. We investigated the oviposition behaviour of T. solanivora females and the survival of larval offspring on healthy vs. stressed, i.e. light exposed and/or damaged potato tubers. In choice tests, females laid significantly more eggs in response to potato odour of healthy tubers and female oviposition preference correlated with higher larval survival. Survival of larvae was negatively correlated with the tuber content of the steroid glycoalkaloids alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine: healthy potatoes contained lower amounts than stressed tubers, ranging from 25 to 500 mu g g(-1) and from 30 to 600 mu g g(-1), respectively. Analysis of volatile compounds emitted by potato tubers revealed that stressed tubers could clearly be distinguished from healthy tubers by the composition of their volatile profiles. Compounds that contributed to this difference were e.g. decanal, nonanal, isopropyl myristate, phenylacetaldehyde, benzothiazole, heptadecane, octadecane, myristicin, E,E-alpha-famesene and verbenone. Oviposition assays, when female moths were not in contact with the tubers, clearly demonstrated that volatiles guide the females to lay fewer eggs on stressed tubers that are of inferior quality for the larvae. We propose that volatiles, such as sesquiterpenes and aldehydes, mediate oviposition behaviour and are correlated with biosynthetically related, non-volatile compounds, such as steroidal glycoalkaloids, which influence larval survival. We conclude that the oviposition response and larval survival of T. solanivora on healthy vs. stressed tubers supports the preference performance hypothesis for insect herbivores. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Solanum tuberosum; Solanum; Gelechiidae; Preference performance; Oviposition; SGAs; Phenols; alpha-Solanine; alpha-Chaconine

Published in

2013, Volume: 85, pages: 72-81