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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2009

O.L. Kvedaras
Affiliation:
EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Private Mail Bag, Wagga Wagga, NSW2650, Australia
M. An
Affiliation:
Environmental and Analytical Laboratories, Faculty of Science & EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University, Locked Bag 558, Wagga Wagga, NSW2678, Australia
Y.S. Choi
Affiliation:
EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 883, Orange, NSW2800, Australia
G.M. Gurr
Affiliation:
EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University, PO Box 883, Orange, NSW2800, Australia
Corresponding

Abstract

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.

Type
Short Communication
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

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