Silicon enhances natural enemy attraction and bilogical control through induced plant defences

Olivia Reynolds, Min An, Yong-Seok Choi, Geoffrey Gurr

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Silicon (Si) is known to have a role in constitutive plant defence against arthropod pests, and recent work has illustrated involvement in induced plant defences. The present tri-trophic study tested the hypothesis that Si increases natural enemy attraction to pest-infested plants and improves biological control. Cucumber plants treated with potassium silicate (Si+) and untreated control plants (Si') were maintained in separately vented glasshouse compartments. Y-tube olfactometer studies showed that adult Dicranolaius bellulus were significantly more attracted to Si+ plants upon which Helicoverpa armigera larvae had fed compared with Si', pest-infested plants. Predators were not significantly more attracted to Si+ plants when comparing uninfested cucumbers. In a field experiment, we placed H. armigera-infested and uninfested Si+ and Si' cucumber plants in a lucerne stand. Removal rates of H. armigera egg baits showed predation was greater for Si+ infested plants than for other treatments. Results suggest that Si applied to plants with a subsequent pest infestation increases the plants' attractiveness to natural enemies; an effect that was reflected in elevated biological control in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-371
Number of pages5
JournalBulletin of Entomological Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010

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