Behavioural response of wheat bulb fly (Delia coarctata, Diptera: Anthomyiidae) larvae to the primary plant metabolite carbon dioxide

Craig D Rogers, KA Evans, JP Parker, V Pappa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Wheat bulb fly (WBF) larvae use chemotaxis to orientate towards host-plant root
exudates. This study aimed to investigate the role of the primary plant metabolite carbon dioxide (CO2) in host-plant location by WBF. Arena based behavioural experiments were used to identify whether CO2 induced chemotaxis (directional movement in response to a chemical stimulus) or kinesis (non-directional movement in response to a stimulus) from WBF larvae. No chemotactic response was observed when larvae were presented to a point source of CO2. However, elevated levels of CO2 induced kinesis, with both track length and tortuosity (number of twists and turns in the movement path) increasing at elevated CO2 levels of 1000–2000ppm, demonstrating increased searching behaviour. Soil emission of CO2 was quantified to compare soil levels with those identified as eliciting behavioural effects on the larvae.
Samples removed from soil gave a mean CO2 concentration of 557 (± 46) ppm, which is lower than the lowest concentration of CO2 found to induce a behavioural response and higher than the lowest CO2 concentration tested, which was found not to alter behaviour. It is proposed that increased CO2 concentrations in the soil act as a behavioural trigger, inducing intensive searching of an area by WBF larvae. This increases the likelihood of finding more host-specific identifiers, such as secondary metabolites when near a potential host-plant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-682
JournalBulletin of Entomological Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPrint publication - Dec 2013


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