Plants produce an array of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), many of which mediate plant-insect interactions. While the role of (VOCs) in ecosystems is complex, it is well known that many insects use specific VOC blends to locate their plant host. Such is true with Cephus cinctus Norton, the wheat stem sawfly (WSS). The WSS is a significant pest to dryland wheat in the northern Great Plains. Altering agronomic practices has the potential to impact sawfly populations and those of associated natural enemies.
The purpose of this research is to 1) evaluate how soil legacy effects of cropping systems influence volatile emissions of wheat and 2) determine how these volatiles influence important multitrophic interactions in agroecosystems such as resistance to wheat stem sawfly and natural enemy host location cues. This work is important to building a greater understanding of multitrophic interactions mediated by soil legacy effects in both agricultural and natural systems.