Predatory earwigs are attracted by herbivore-induced plant volatiles linked with plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria.
Plant-associated microbes may induce plant defenses against herbivores. Plants, in turn, can attract natural enemies, such as predators, using herbivore-induced plant volatiles. Intricate communication occurs between microorganisms, plants, and insects. Given that many aspects related to mechanisms involved in this symbiotic system remain unknown, we evaluated how beneficial soil-borne microorganisms can affect the interactions between plants, herbivores, and natural enemies. For this study, we established a multitrophic system composed of the predatory earwig Doru luteipes (Dermaptera: Forficulidae), arugula (Eruca sativa, Brassicaceae) as the host plant, Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) larvae as a specialist herbivore, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) larvae as a generalist herbivore, and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens as the plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR), in a series of nocturnal olfactometry experiments. By assessing earwig preference towards herbivore-induced and PGPR-inoculated plants in different combinations, we showed that the interaction between rhizobacteria, plants, and herbivores can affect the predatory earwig's behavior. Furthermore, we observed a synergistic effect in which earwigs were attracted by plants that presented as PGPR inoculated and herbivore damaged, for both specialist and generalist herbivores. Our findings help fill the important knowledge gap regarding multitrophic interactions and should provide useful guidelines for their application to agricultural fields.