Plant-associated CO2 mediates long-distance host location and foraging behaviour of a root herbivore

Carla Cm Arce, Vanitha Theepan, Bernardus Cj Schimmel, Geoffrey Jaffuel, Matthias Erb, Ricardo Ar Machado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Insect herbivores use different cues to locate host plants. The importance of CO2 in this context is not well understood. We manipulated CO2 perception in western corn rootworm (WCR) larvae through RNAi and studied how CO2 perception impacts their interaction with their host plant. The expression of a carbon dioxide receptor, DvvGr2, is specifically required for dose-dependent larval responses to CO2. Silencing CO2 perception or scrubbing plant-associated CO2 has no effect on the ability of WCR larvae to locate host plants at short distances (<9 cm), but impairs host location at greater distances. WCR larvae preferentially orient and prefer plants that grow in well-fertilized soils compared to plants that grow in nutrient-poor soils, a behaviour that has direct consequences for larval growth and depends on the ability of the larvae to perceive root-emitted CO2. This study unravels how CO2 can mediate plant-herbivore interactions by serving as a distance-dependent host location cue.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide/metabolism
  • Food Chain
  • Herbivory
  • Larva/growth & development
  • Moths/growth & development
  • Plant Roots/metabolism
  • Zea mays/metabolism


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