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Research article2011Peer reviewed

Attraction and Oviposition of Tuta absoluta Females in Response to Tomato Leaf Volatiles

Proffit, Magali; Birgersson, Göran; Bengtsson, Marie; Reis Jr., Ronaldo; Witzgall, Peter; Lima, Eraldo


The tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a devastating pest of cultivated tomato Solanum lycopersicum throughout South and Central America and Europe. We aimed to characterize the behavioral mechanisms and the chemical cues involved in host selection of T. absoluta females by chemical analysis of tomato leaf volatiles, wind tunnel attraction assays, and oviposition bioassays. Tomato leaf odor elicited in mated females upwind orientation flight followed by landing as well as egg-laying, demonstrating the essential role of plant volatiles in T. absoluta host-finding behavior. In wind tunnel and oviposition choice experiments, T. absoluta females significantly preferred tomato S. lycopersicum over wild tomato Solanum habrochaites, which is resistant to larval feeding. This indicates that leaf volatiles provide information on the suitability of plants as larval hosts. Mated females also discriminated three cultivars of S. lycopersicum according to their volatile profiles. Headspace collections from leaves of these three cultivars contained large amounts of beta-phellandrene, followed by limonene, 2-carene, and (E)-beta-caryophyllene, which together accounted for more than 70% of tomato foliage headspace. Most leaf volatiles were released by all three cultivars, but they showed significant differences with respect to the presence of a few minor compounds and blend proportion. This is an initial study of the volatile signatures that mediate attraction and oviposition of tomato leafminer T. absoluta in response to its main host, tomato.


Tuta absoluta; Host plant volatiles; Kairomone; Headspace collection; Chemical analysis; Solanum lycopersicum; Lepidoptera; Gelechiidae

Published in

Journal of Chemical Ecology
2011, Volume: 37, number: 6, pages: 565-574 Publisher: SPRINGER