Alien interference: disruption of infochemical networks by invasive insect herbivores

Gaylord A. Desurmont, Jeff A. Harvey, Nicole M. van Dam, Simona M. Cristescu, Florian P. Schiestl, Salvatore Cozzolino, Peter Anderson, Mattias C. Larsson, Pavel Kindlmann, Holger Danner, Ted C. J. Turlings

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Insect herbivores trigger various biochemical changes in plants, and as a consequence, affect other organisms that are associated with these plants. Such plant-mediated indirect effects often involve herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) that can be used as cues for foraging herbivores and their natural enemies, and are also known to affect pollinator attraction. In tightly co-evolved systems, the different trophic levels are expected to display adaptive response to changes in HIPVs caused by native herbivores. But what if a new herbivore invades such a system? Current literature suggests that exotic herbivores have the potential to affect HIPV production, and that plant responses to novel herbivores are likely to depend on phylogenetic relatedness between the invader and the native species. Here we review the different ways exotic herbivores can disrupt chemically mediated interactions between plants and the key users of HIPVs: herbivores, pollinators, and members of the third (i.e. predators and parasitoids) and fourth (i.e. hyperparasitoids) trophic levels. Current theory on insect invasions needs to consider that disruptive effects of invaders on infochemical networks can have a short-term impact on the population dynamics of native insects and plants, as well as exerting potentially negative consequences for the functioning of native ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1854-1865
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number8, SI
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • invasive species
  • multitrophic interactions
  • plant–insect interactions
  • plant volatiles
  • international


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