Plant Variety, Mycorrhization, and Herbivory Influence Induced Volatile Emissions and Plant Growth Characteristics in Tomato

Erinn R. Dady, Nathan Kleczewski, Carmen M. Ugarte, Esther Ngumbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plants produce a range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that mediate vital ecological interactions between herbivorous insects, their natural enemies, plants, and soil dwelling organisms including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF). The composition, quantity, and quality of the emitted VOCs can vary and is influenced by numerous factors such as plant species, variety (cultivar), plant developmental stage, root colonization by soil microbes, as well as the insect developmental stage, and level of specialization of the attacking herbivore. Understanding factors shaping VOC emissions is important and can be leveraged to enhance plant health and pest resistance. In this greenhouse study, we evaluated the influence of plant variety, mycorrhizal colonization, herbivory, and their interactions on the composition of emitted volatiles in tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L.). Four tomato varieties from two breeding histories (two heirlooms and two hybrids), were used. Tomato plants were inoculated with a commercial inoculum blend consisting of four species of AMF. Plants were also subjected to herbivory by Manduca sexta (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae L.) five weeks after transplanting. Headspace volatiles were collected from inoculated and non-inoculated plants with and without herbivores using solid phase-microextraction. Volatile profiles consisted of 21 different volatiles in detectable quantities. These included monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and alkane hydrocarbons. We documented a strong plant variety effect on VOC emissions. AMF colonization and herbivory suppressed VOC emissions. Plant biomass was improved by colonization of AMF. Our results show that mycorrhization, herbivory and plant variety can alter tomato plant VOC emissions and further shape volatile-mediated insect and plant interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-724
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number11-12
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Insect herbivory
  • Plant variety
  • Plant-insect interactions
  • Tomato
  • Volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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