Weeding volatiles reduce leaf and seed damage to field-grown soybeans and increase seed isoflavones


Field experiments were conducted over 3 years (2012, 2013, and 2015), in which half of the young stage soybean plants were exposed to volatiles from cut goldenrods three times over 2–3 weeks, while the other half remained unexposed. There was a significant reduction in the level of the total leaf damage on exposed soybean plants compared with unexposed ones. In 2015, the proportion of damage to plants by Spodoptera litura larvae, a dominant herbivore, was significantly less in the exposed field plots than in the unexposed plots. Under laboratory conditions, cut goldenrod volatiles induced the direct defenses of soybean plants against S. litura larvae and at least three major compounds, α-pinene, β-myrcene, and limonene, of cut goldenrod volatiles were involved in the induction. The number of undamaged seeds from the exposed plants was significantly higher than that from unexposed ones. Concentrations of isoflavones in the seeds were significantly higher in seeds from the exposed plants than in those from the unexposed plants. Future research evaluating the utility of weeding volatiles, as a form of plant–plant communications, in pest management programs is necessary.


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