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RESEARCH1. Host-plant Volatile Attractants

Plants emit volatiles that can serve as important cues for insect herbivores in host finding. Because plant volatile compounds play a critical role in the insect’s life, they can be a useful tool in insect pest management programs. Plant volatiles can be used as attractants in traps for monitoring and mass-trapping insect pests.

Prior to joining Rutgers University, I worked with a team of scientists from the USDA-ARS to develop attractants for the western tarnished plant bug, Lygus hesperus, and with scientists from the USDA-Forest Services and Michigan State on the development of attractants for the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis. Currently, we are studying the emission of volatiles from vegetative and flowering blueberries and cranberries and the behavioral and antennal-electrophysiological responses of insects to these volatiles.

A laboratory for the study of plant volatiles and insect behavior has been established at the Rutgers Marucci Blueberry and Cranberry Research and Extension Center. This laboratory accommodates equipment for the collection and analyses of plant volatiles, electro-antennographic detection, and insect’s behavioral response to plant volatiles.

Current Collaborators

 - Zsofia Szendrei (Michigan State University)
 - Lukasz Stelinski (University of Florida)

Relevant Publications

Szendrei Z., Averill, A., Alborn, H., and Rodriguez-Saona, C. 2011. Identification and field evaluation of attractants for the cranberry weevil, Anthonomus musculus Say. J. Chem. Ecol. 37: 387-397.

McGraw B.A., Rodriguez-Saona, C., Holdcraft, R., Szendrei, Z., and Koppenhöfer, A.M. 2011. Behavioral and electrophysiological responses of Listronotus maculicollis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) to volatiles from intact and mechanically damaged annual bluegrass. Environ. Entomol. 40: 412-419.

Williams, L. III, Blackmer, J.L., Rodriguez-Saona, C., and Zhu, S. 2010. Plant volatiles influence electrophysiological and behavioral responses of Lygus hesperus. J. Chem. Ecol. 36: 467-478.

Szendrei, Z., and Rodriguez-Saona, C. 2010. A meta-analysis of behavioral manipulation of insect pests with plant volatiles.  Entomol. Exp. et Appl. 134: 201-210.

Rodriguez-Saona, C., and Stelinski, L. 2009. Behavior-modifying Strategies in IPM: Theory and Practice. In: Integrated Pest Management: Innovation – Development Process, Vol. 1. R. Peshin and A. K. Dhawan (Eds.). Springer.

Szendrei, Z., Malo, E. Stelinski, L., and Rodriguez-Saona, C. 2009. Response of cranberry weevil (Anthonomus musculus Say, Coleoptera: Curculionidae) to host plant volatiles. Environ. Entomol. 38: 861-869.

Rodriguez-Saona, C., Poland, T.M., Miller, J.R., Stelinski, L.L., Grant, G.G., de Groot, P., Buchan, L. and MacDonald, L. 2006. Behavioral and electrophysiological responses of the emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, to induced volatiles of Manchurian ash, Fraxinus mandshurica. Chemoecology 16: 75-86.

Blackmer, J.L., Rodriguez-Saona, C., Byers, J.A., Shope, K.L., and Smith, J.P. 2004. Behavioral response of Lygus hesperus to conspecifics and headspace volatiles of alfalfa in a Y-tube olfactometer. J. Chem. Ecol. 30: 1547-1564.

headspace volatile collection apparatus
Headspace volatile collection apparatus

Gas chromatography used for analyzing plant volatiles
Gas chromatography used for
analyzing plant volatiles

8-arm olfactometer
An 8-arm olfactometer for the study of insect behavior

Electro-antennographic (EAG) detection apparatus
Electro-antennographic (EAG)
detection apparatus for the identification of antennally-active plant volatiles


A Y-tube olfactometer for the study of insect behavior