Foraging strategies of natural enemies of the peach-potato aphid Myzus persicae
The foraging strategies of two natural enemies of the peach-potato aphid Myzus persicae: the seven-spot ladybird Coccinella septempunctata and the parasitoid wasp Diaeretiella rapae, were investigated. Specifically the roles of plant semiochemicals in the location of plants infested with M. persicae by these natural enemies were examined. I investigated the olfactory responses of female C. septempunctata to volatiles collected from M. persicae and four Brassica cultivars; Brassica rapa, B. juncea, B. napus cultivar ‘Apex’ and B. napus cultivar ‘Courage’ and wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana that were: undamaged, previously infested by M. persicae and infested with M. persicae. C. septempunctata showed no attraction to volatiles from M. persicae alone. C. septempunctata significantly changed its searching behaviour in response to plant volatiles from B. rapa, B. napus cv. ‘Apex’ and Arabidopsis infested with M. persicae. C. septempunctata was also found to display a significant turning bias when foraging on a branching horizontal wire stem. A model was developed to investigate how turning biases affect the foraging efficiency of C. septempunctata in dichotomous branched environments. Simulations using this model indicated that turning biases could potentially increase searching efficiency. D. rapae showed a significant preference for volatiles from M. persicae infested wild-type Arabidopsis but no preference to volatiles from M. persicae alone or M. persicae honeydew. Volatile emissions by Arabidopsis were shown to be localised to the area of aphid-infestation rather than systemic. Using gas chromatography plants infested with M. persicae were shown to emit a quantitatively different volatile blend than undamaged plants. In experiments with jasmonate mutants of Arabidopsis the jasmonate (octadecanoid) wound response pathway was implicated as being important for the production of M. persicae induced volatiles, attractive to D. rapae. Other wound response pathways were also found to be involved in the production of the full blend of M. persicae induced volatiles.