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Interactions of host plant resistance and biological control of stemborers in sorghum

  • K. F. Nwanze (a1) and F. E. Nwilene (a1)


Lepidopteran stemborers are major limiting factors in the production of maize and sorghum in Africa and Asia. Host-plant resistance and biological control are important components of an IPM programme and can effectively maintain pest populations below economic threshold levels, especially in low-input subsistence farming systems. When damaged by herbivores, plants produce allelochemicals which can attract natural enemies of the pest. These volatiles occur systematically throughout the plant and are different from those emitted in response to mechanical damage. We report evidence of plant volatiles-mediated differential reaction of parasitoid activity to sorghum genotypes. These volatiles could have a positive impact on the efficacy of stemborer parasitoids, leading to increased host finding or increased searching efficiency, thereby enhancing the suppression of stemborer populations. In a single-season case study, parasitoid activity was higher in stemborer-resistant genotypes than in susceptible ones and varied with crop age. Knowledge of such interactions should be explored and intensified by plant breeders and chemical ecologiste aiming at producing plant materials possessing appreciable levels of resistance to stemborers and able to encourage natural enemy activity in cereal-based ecosystems.

Les lépidoptéres foreurs de tiges sont les principaux facteurs limitants de la production de maïs et de sorgho en Afrique et en Asie. La résistance de la plante hôte et la lutte biologique constituent des composantes importantes d'un programme de gestion intégrée des déprédateurs et peuvent maintenir efficacement les populations d'insectes á des niveaux inférieurs au seuil économique, principalement dans les systèmes de cultures de subsistance á faibles niveaux d'intrants. Lorsqu'elles sont endommagées par les herbivores nuisibles, les plantes sécrètent des substances allélochimiques qui peuvent attirer les ennemis naturels des insectes déprédateurs. Ces substances volatiles se dégagent de toute la plante et sont différentes de celles émises en réaction aux dégâts mécaniques. Nous apportons la preuve de l'existence de la réaction différentielle des substances volatiles induites de l'activité de parasitoïdes sur les génotypes du sorgho. Ces substances volatiles pourraient avoir un impact positif sur l'efficacité des ennemis naturels des foreurs de tiges, ce qui pourrait aboutir á une meilleure connaissance des hôtes lou á une meilleure efficacité de leur recherche et de ce fait á une plus grande élimination des populations de foreurs de tiges. Une étude de cas menée pendant une seule campagne a révélé que l'activité des parasitoïdes était plus intense chez les génotypes résistants aux foreurs de tiges que chez ceux qui y étaient sensibles et qu'elle variait avec l'âge des cultures. Les sélectionneurs et les écologistes chimiques soucieux de produire du matériel végétal possédant des niveaux appréciables de résistance aux foreurs de tiges et capables d'encourager l'activité de l'ennemi naturel dans les écosystémes de production céréalière, devraient explorer et intensifier la recherche sur ces interactions.



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Interactions of host plant resistance and biological control of stemborers in sorghum

  • K. F. Nwanze (a1) and F. E. Nwilene (a1)


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