A re-examination of corn (Zea mays L.) ear volatiles

Thomas L. Potter, Dawn M. Olson, Xinzhi Ni, Glen C. Rains

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) is a major insect pest of corn and other agricultural crops. An improved understanding of semiochemcials that control adult behavior is needed to develop alternative control measures. In this study, overnight SPME collection of volatiles from corn ears enclosed in Teflon bags in the field at two stages of development were made. C8-C10 aldehydes, a C8-alcohol, C6-C9 alcohol acetates, and numerous monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, sequiterpene alcohols, and geosmin were identified after thermal desorption and GC/MS. Structural assignments of the alcohol acetates, Z-3-hexenyl acetate, 2-heptyl acetate, 2-nonyl acetate, and 4-nonyl acetate, the monoterpenes, α- and β-ocimene, and geosmin were made by analysis of standards that were purchased or prepared in the laboratory. All other assignments were based on published Kovat's retention time indices (KI) and mass spectra. Pair-wise comparison of the relative amounts of each component between two groups of corn ears defined by silk weight did not identify significant differences, thus it is unknown whether or not silk weight impacted volatile emission composition and rate. To our knowledge three compounds detected in SPME collections, 2-heptyl acetate, 2-nonyl acetate, and 4-nonyl acetate have not been previously reported in corn ear or silk volatiles. Their impact on the flight response of gravid earworm females was evaluated in a flight chamber. No significant response to the individual compounds or a blend of all three was observed. Thus, their impact on moth behavior remains uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalPhytochemistry Letters
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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