PRECS student projects

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2022


Flowers emit volatiles to attract pollinators, but these volatiles can also attract pest insects. Our study builds on earlier findings that showed that cucumber beetle attraction to squash flowers is mediated by volatile release and cucurbitacin accumulation (Theis, 2014, DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1400171). Of the three main domesticated squash species, only a few varieties of Cucurbita maxima had large quantities of floral volatiles and cucurbitacin (Andersen and Metcalf, 1987, doi: 10.1007/BF01020152); however, these studies were limited in the number of varieties that were examined. Here, we increased the number of C. maxima varieties examined, to identify patterns in floral volatile production, with the goal of identifying correlations between specific volatiles and beetle attraction. The findings from this study support a larger project, Fighting Fire with FIRE: Exploiting Corn Rootworm Attraction to Manipulate Pest Behavior.


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Research was conducted with the cooperation of the Department of Crop Sciences, College of ACES, Department of Entomology, School of Integrative Biology, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Cooperation was also given by the Illinois Natural History Survey.



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