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Desurmont Gaylord A., Laplanche Diane, Schiestl Florian P., Turlings Ted C. J. (2015), Floral volatiles interfere with plant attraction of parasitoids: ontogeny-dependent infochemical dynamics in Brassica rapa, in BMC ECOLOGY
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Plants grow in complex ecological networks, and show finely tuned adaptations to antagonists and mutualists in their environment. In plant signaling, BVOCs (biogenic volatile organic compounds) from vegetative parts are often thought to be involved in direct and indirect defenses, whereas floral volatiles are traditionally interpreted as attractants for pollinators. However, recent meta-analyses suggested that floral scent may as well be involved in defending reproductive structures against antagonists. The obvious need of plants to attract pollinators to flowers, however, puts them into a dilemma, as floral signaling may also attract antagonists. On the other hand, induced defenses, e.g. increased emission of defensive terpenoids after herbivore attack may decrease attractiveness of flowers to pollinators. However, induced BVOC emissions by plants under herbivore attack can attract parasitoids and thus indirectly defend themselves against herbivores. For plants, such signaling trade-offs suggest optimal fitness outcomes may be a compromise between attraction (pollinators, parasitoids) and deterrence (herbivores); a key factor selecting for differential signaling may also be the abundance and species identity of these interacting organisms in a given habitat. Signaling conflicts may also differ among pollination systems, e.g. when pollinators are also herbivores (moth pollination), attracting an herbivore is unavoidable for pollination. Under strong herbivore attack, however, plants may even switch pollination system by changing BVOC signaling to escape the herbivore pressure. This particular IP will focus on ecological and evolutionary aspects of flower signaling to pollinators and the impact of novel herbivores on this mutualism. Up till now, we know surprisingly little about how herbivore induced changes in floral volatiles (HICFV) and the resulting change in flower attractiveness to pollinators. This IP will investigate HICFV after attack of established and novel herbivores (both on shoots and roots) and its molecular basis and variability. Lastly, natural selection on HICFV will be studied in populations with and without invasive herbivores, to asses their impact on the evolution of this key plant signaling trait and model future evolutionary change.