Effects of some leaf-emitted volatile compounds on aphid population increase

D. F. Hildebrand, G. C. Brown, D. M. Jackson, T. R. Hamilton-Kemp

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88 Scopus citations


A role of some volatile compounds produced by plant tissues may be as defensive molecules against various pests, including arthropods. Volatile six-carbon compounds derived in plant tissue from polyunsaturated fatty acids via lipoxygenase/hydroperoxide lyase reduced tobacco aphid fecundity at certain concentrations when added to headspace vapor to which aphids were exposed. Both C6 aldehydes and alcohols were effective, with the alcohols having greater activity. (Z)-3-Hexenyl acetate at levels in the headspace similar to those of the alcohols and aldehydes did not reduce aphid fecundity. A 6-hr exposure period to the C6 aldehydes and alcohols was needed for maximum effect on the aphids feeding on tobacco leaves. Analysis of the direct versus indirect effects of these compounds indicates that the volatile aldehydes had both direct effects on aphid fecundity and indirect effects due to induced changes in the leaves upon which the aphids were feeding, while only indirect effects were observed for the alcohols. Tomato leaves have the capacity to produce volatile compounds at levels that impact aphid population increase, with the volatiles produced from crushed leaves having a much larger effect. The C6 aldehydes and alcohols may be components of the fecundity reduction seen with tomato volatiles; however, volatile terpenes showed no effect. These results can be of significance for the genetic alteration of plants for improved aphid resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1875-1887
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1993


  • Aldehydes
  • alcohols
  • fatty acids
  • lipids
  • lipoxygenase
  • pest defense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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