In weed biological control programs, pre-release host-specificity testing relies traditionally on no-choice and choice feeding, oviposition, and development tests. Rarely have they included detailed examination of behavioral responses to olfactory and visual cues of biological control candidates, although a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying host recognition may explain potential discrepancies between choice and no-choice tests, and/or between tests conducted in the lab versus field conditions. We investigated how the seed-feeding weevil, Mogulones borraginis, distinguishes its host plant, Cynoglossum officinale, from three native confamilial non-target species in North America. In behavioral bioassays, M. borraginis responded to olfactory and visual cues individually and, to an even greater extent, to both plant cue modalities when offered simultaneously. In tests with the combined cues, M. borraginis was attracted to C. officinale but responded with indifference or was repelled by non-target plants. In electrophysiological experiments, we identified that M. borraginis responded to ten volatile compounds and four wavelengths of lights from inflorescences of C. officinale. We propose that studies of responses to multimodal plant cues can advance our understanding of how biocontrol candidate species discriminate among host plants and closely related non-target species, thereby increasing the accuracy of environmental safety assessments pre-release.
BioControl – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 18, 2018
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