chapter  8
20 Pages

Chapter 8 Plant and Stink Bug Interactions at Different Trophic Levels

WithSalvatore Guarino, Ezio Peri, Stefano Colazza

The interactions between plants and herbivores are among the most important ecological interactions in nature (Johnson 2011). Plants are sessile organisms and cannot run away from potential attackers, which are range from pathogenic microbes to grazing mammals. Among these attackers, arthropods, and in particular insects, comprise the largest and most diverse group of organisms with approximately 1-3 million species feeding on plants (Schoonhoven et al. 2005, Dicke 2009). Host-finding and acceptance or rejection of plants by herbivorous insects depend on their behavioral responses to physical and chemical plant features (Finch and Collier 2000). In this context, the insect-plant interactions have been metaphorically likened to warfare (Gonzalez and Nebert 1990, Berembaum and Zangerl 2008), and the process of reciprocating defense and counter-defense has been called a coevolutionary arms race (Whittaker and Feeny 1971). The concept of coevolution was first stated by Fraenknel (1953), who speculated that, as the majority of the green plants are essentially nutritionally equivalent, the so-called secondary metabolites are then likely to determine the patterns of host plant utilization. These concepts did not reach major scientific society until 1959 when Fraenkel published the famous article “The raison d’etre of secondary plant substances” in the journal Science. In this paper was cited the “first detailed description of a chemical insect-host plant relationship’’ 181reported by Verschaffelt (1911) about the ability of sinigrin, a mustard oil glycoside from Brassicaceae, to stimulate feeding by pierid caterpillars. Among the plant secondary metabolites volatile organic compounds (VOC) can be distinguished, often constituted by the so-called green leaf volatiles, and non-volatile chemicals.