The honeydew of an aphid contains a bacterium that produces volatile compounds and attracts predators, reports a study published in Nature Communications this week. The findings could have implications for new strategies to control populations of aphids, such as greenfly.Pascal Leroy and colleagues screened the chemicals found in honeydew — a mixture of compounds excreted by aphids when they feed on plant phloem — of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. They found that a bacterium that they isolated from within the honeydew produces volatile compounds. In addition, the authors found that certain chemicals produced by the bacteria could attract hoverflies — a known predator of several aphid species. These findings could allow the exploitation of a natural enemy, in the form of the hoverfly, in controlling aphid populations.
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