Journal of Systematics and Evolution

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  • 收稿日期:2021-11-24 接受日期:2022-03-25

Herbicides and their potential to disrupt plant–insect chemical communication

Sergio E. Ramos1, Moe Bakhtiari2, Miguel Castañeda-Zárate3, Veronica Iriart1, Tia-Lynn Ashman1   

  1. 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
    2Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, USA
    3Centre for Functional Biodiversity, School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • Received:2021-11-24 Accepted:2022-03-25


Ecological interactions between plants and insects are of paramount importance for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Herbicides have long been considered a threat to plant and insect populations, but global increases in intensive agriculture and availability of herbicide-resistant crops have intensified concerns about their full impact on biodiversity. Here, we argue that exposure to sublethal herbicide doses has the potential to alter plant–insect interactions as a result of disruptions in their chemical communication. This is because herbicides interfere with biosynthetic pathways and phytohormones involved in the production of several classes of plant volatiles that mediate plant–insect chemical communication. Sublethal herbicide doses can modify the morphological and life-history plant traits and affect interactions with insects. However, the potential changes in plant volatiles and their consequences for plant–insect chemical communication have not yet received as much attention. We discuss how target-site (disruptors of primary metabolism) and non-target-site (synthetic auxins) herbicides could alter the production of plant volatiles and disrupt plant–insect chemical communication. We suggest research avenues to fill in the current gap in our knowledge that might derive recommendations and applied solutions to minimize herbicides' impacts on plant–insect interactions and biodiversity.

Key words: herbicides, plant-insect interactions, chemical communication, plant volatiles, sublethal exposure