Yeast Volatomes Differentially Affect Larval Feeding in an Insect Herbivore - Academic Article uri icon


  • Yeasts form mutualistic interactions with insects. Hallmarks of this interaction include provision of essential nutrients, while insects facilitate yeast dispersal and growth on plant substrates. A phylogenetically ancient chemical dialogue coordinates this interaction, where the vocabulary, the volatile chemicals that mediate the insect response, remains largely unknown. Here, we used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, followed by hierarchical cluster and orthogonal partial least-squares discriminant analyses, to profile the volatomes of six Metschnikowia spp., Cryptococcus nemorosus, and brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). The yeasts, which are all found in association with insects feeding on foliage or fruit, emit characteristic, species-specific volatile blends that reflect the phylogenetic context. Species specificity of these volatome profiles aligned with differential feeding of cotton leafworm (Spodoptera littoralis) larvae on these yeasts. Bioactivity correlates with yeast ecology; phylloplane species elicited a stronger response than fruit yeasts, and larval discrimination may provide a mechanism for establishment of insect-yeast associations. The yeast volatomes contained a suite of insect attractants known from plant and especially floral headspace, including (Z)- hexenyl acetate, ethyl (2E,4Z)-deca-2,4-dienoate (pear ester), (3E)-4,8-dimethylnona-1,3,7- triene (DMNT), linalool, -terpineol, -myrcene, or (E,E)--farnesene. A wide overlap of yeast and plant volatiles, notably floral scents, further emphasizes the prominent role of yeasts in plant-microbe-insect relationships, including pollination. The knowledge of insect-yeast interactions can be readily brought to practical application, as live yeasts or yeast metabolites mediating insect attraction provide an ample toolbox for the development of sustainable insect management.

Fecha de publicación

  • 2019