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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.
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