Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Plants, Soils, and Insects

Major Professor

Feng Chen

Committee Members

Arnold M. Saxton, Robert M. Augé, Annette L. Wszelaki, Timothy J. Tschaplinski


Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) produces an array of volatile secondary metabolites that act as constitutive and induced defenses against a variety of insect pests and diseases. We studied the effect of beneficial microorganisms, an arbuscular mycorrhiza fungus (AM), Glomus intraradices, an entomopathogenic fungus (Bb), Beauveria bassiana and a combination of both (AM+Bb), as well as, pests, such as rootknot nematode (RKN) (Meloidogyne incognita) and beet armyworm (BAW) (Spodoptera exiguae H.) on the production of volatile compounds in the leaves and roots of tomato. Benzyl alcohol, 3-hexenoic acid, total other compounds and β-myrcene were significantly increased (P<0.05) in the leaves by AM and Bb colonization. Upon herbivory, control plants showed a trend for high volatile contents among all four treatment groups contrary to the trend observed without herbivory, when control showed low volatile contents. Herbivory significantly decreased all the volatiles in the leaves compared to those without herbivory. Pest bioassay revealed that these two fungi together can significantly induce resistance against BAW. In the experiment with RKN, a trend was observed with low production of most volatile compounds in the leaves from the RKN plants. Varying durations of herbivory exposure had significant effects on many leaf volatile compounds compared to those without herbivory. Effect of RKN was significant (P<0.05) on the production of methyl salicylate, and (Z)-geraniol in the roots. Interaction effect of RKN with 18 hours of herbivory was significant for (Z)-geraniol, and with 42 hours of herbivory, it was significant for (Z)-geraniol, benzyl alcohol, and total volatiles in the roots. Beet armyworm preferred RKN plants and caused greater damage to them compared to the control plants. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR showed higher expression of the SlSAMT gene in the roots colonized with RKN, compared to the control roots and those from a resistant line. The experiments demonstrated that interaction with these organisms can change the volatile compounds in the leaves and roots of tomato plant, can alter herbivore preference, and can upregulate defense genes such as SlSAMT.

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