SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.68 issue3Yield and popping expansión components in local popcorn varieties from Southern BrazilFertilization with nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium in blackberry (Rubus glaucus Benth.): Effect on Anthracnose under controlled conditions author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • Have no similar articlesSimilars in SciELO
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Acta Agronómica

Print version ISSN 0120-2812

Acta Agron. vol.68 no.3 Palmira July/Sept. 2019 

Artículos Originales

Chemical profile of the volátiles of Baccharis salicifolia (Asteraceae) and interaction with Macrodactylus nigripes (Coleoptera: Melolonthidae)

Perfil químico de volátiles de Baccharis salicifolia (Asteraceae) e interacción con Macrodactylus nigripes (Coleoptera:Melolonthidae)

Ericka Nieves-Silva 1   * 

Angel A. Romero-López 2  

1Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Centro de Agroecología, Laboratorio de Manejo de Plagas y Enfermedades, Edificio VAL1, Km 1.7 carretera a San Baltazar Tetela, San Pedro Zacachimalpa, C.P. 72960, Puebla, Puebla, México.

2Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Laboratorio de Infoquímicos, Blvd. Valsequillo y Av. San Claudio Edificio 112-A, Ciudad universitaria, Col. Jardines de San Manuel, C.P. 72570. Puebla, Puebla, México.


Plant products or substances medíate interactions among organisms from different trophic levels, including phytophagous insects. These interactions have been cited in a chemical-ecology context for species of Coleoptera Melolonthidae. However, there are no previous reports of these interactions among melolonthid beetles species distributed in Mexico and host plants. For the above, the interaction between adults of ‘rose chafer’ Macrodactylus nigripes Bates (Coleoptera: Melolonthidae) and ‘seep willow’ shrub Baccharis salicifolia (Ruíz and Pav.) Pers. (Asteraceae) was recorded and the leaves volatiles of seep willow that might be involved in the attraction of these insects were extracted and identified. The sequence of behavior patterns that conforms this interaction was described. Females of M. nigripes emerge from the soil and flight to the leaves of seep willow shrubs. Each female settled on leaf and they place their mandibles on the leaf margin and start moving them from right to left to obtain small leaf fragments to ingest. In addition, females exhibit a similar ‘calling’ behavior as well as the others species. Following the females, males emerge from the soil and repeat the females’ behavior, approaching them for mating. A list of the leaves volatiles of seep willow was generated by solid phase microextraction (SPME) and coupled gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC-MS), where the most abundant chemicals were a-pinene, trimethylindan and cyclohexylbenzene. These compounds have been previously reported in other plant species, including some species considered as host plants for Melolonthidae.

Key words: Attraction; plant volátiles; “rose chafer”; SPME; GC-MS


Los productos o substancias volátiles de plantas median las interacciones entre los organismos de diferentes niveles tróficos, incluidos los insectos fitófagos. Estas interacciones se han citado en un contexto químico-ecológico para especies de Coleoptera Melolonthidae. Sin embargo, no hay informes previos sobre estas interacciones entre las especies de Melolonthidae distribuidas en México y sus plantas hospederas. Por ello, se registró la interacción entre adultos de Macrodactylus nigripes Bates (Coleoptera:Melolonthidae) y el arbusto de azumiate (Baccharis salicifolia Ruíz and Pav.) Pers. (Asteraceae) y se extrajeron e identificaron los compuestos volátiles de las hojas que podrían estar involucrados en la atracción de estos insectos. Se describió la secuencia de patrones de comportamiento que conforman esta interacción. Se observó que las hembras de M. nigripes emergen del suelo y se desplazan en vuelo hacia las hojas de los arbustos de azumiate. Cada hembra se posiciona en la hoja y colocan sus mandíbulas en el margen de éstas y comienzan a moverlas de derecha a izquierda para obtener pequeños fragmentos de hojas e ingerirlos. Asimismo, las hembras muestran un patrón de comportamiento de ‘llamado sexual’. Enseguida, los machos emergen del suelo y repiten el comportamiento de las hembras, acercándose a ellas para la cópula. Se generó un listado de los compuestos volátiles de las hojas de azumiate mediante microextracción en fase sólida (SPME, por sus siglas en inglés) y cromatografía de gases acoplada a espectrometría de masas (CG-EM), donde los compuestos más abundantes fueron a-pineno, trimetilindan y ciclohexilbenceno. Estos compuestos se han reportado anteriormente en otras especies de plantas, incluidas algunas especies consideradas como plantas hospederas para integrantes de Melolonthidae.

Palabras clave: Atracción; volátiles de plantas; “escarabajo de las rosas”; SPME; GC-MS

Plant volatiles are infochemicals based on complex mixtures of a wide variety of organic compounds. These volatiles have important ecological functions for plants such as pollinators’ attraction, seed dispersal and resistance to predators and pathogens. Also, they can medíate interactions between organisms such as phytophagous insects and their parasitoids and predators (Knolhoff and Heckel, 2014). These interactions have been cited in a chemical-ecology context for species of Melolonthidae (Coleoptera) and the attraction of adults to plant volatiles has been studied (Loughrin et al., 1995; Reinecke et al., 2002). The adults of Macrodactylus sp. (‘rose chafers’) are beetles of Melolonthidae and feed on leaves, severely damaging flowers and fruits. They are pest of many species such as roses (Rosa spp.), grapes (Vitis spp.), apples (Malus spp.), cherries (Prunus spp.), strawberries (Fragaria spp.) and many other trees, shrubs and cultivated plants (Williams et al., 1990; Arce-Pérez and Morón, 2000). There are many wild and cultivated plants that are visited M. nigripes adults, unfortunately, they are only mentioned as Macrodactylus spp., ‘rose chafers’, ‘frailecillos’ or ‘taches’, revealing the lack of taxonomic knowledge. Inversely, Ma.croda.ctylus species are only mentioned on leaves, on grasses, on flowers or without information of capture. About 66 species of plants in 26 families, have been reported to function as alimentation, aggregation sites and/or reproduction sites for Macrodactylus adults. The families of host plants for Macrodactylus are Gramineae (50%), Rosaceae (42.30%), Leguminosae (30.76%), Asteraceae and Lauraceae (15.38%), and Pinaceae (11.53%) (Arce- Pérez and Morón, 2000). For Asteraceae, ‘seep willow’ shrubs are included in Baccharis genus, which is represented by 340 species distributed in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico (Heiden et al., 2012). In the chemical ecology context, there are only three reports in which the plant volatiles of Baccharis salicifolia have been studied obtaining by distillation its essential oils (Loayza et al., 1995; Malizia et al., 2005; Carrizo et al., 2009). There are no previous studies about the volatiles of species of seep willows distributed in Mexico.

In the present study, we generated information about the interaction between B. salicifolia and M. nigripes, an agricultural important species in Mexico (Arce-Pérez and Morón, 2000; Guzmán- Mendoza et al., 2016). In particular, we recorded in field the behavioral responses of M. nigripes Bates in presence of seep willows shrubs and we obtained the chemical profile of the leaves of these by solid phase microextraction (SPME) and coupled gas chromatography - mass spectrometry (GC-MS) techniques.

Materials and methods

Study site

The records of the interaction between adults of M. nigripes and seep willow shrubs were taken in a semi-disturbed area adjacent to maize crops, located in the municipality of San Pablo del Monte, Tlaxcala, Mexico (19° 07’ 00” N and 98° 10’ 00” O).

Observational records

Behavior records were performed by means of direct observation (focal and continuous records) (Altmann, 1984). We conducted a total of twenty- four observational sessions, twelve for females (n = 12) and twelve for males (n = 12). Each session lasted 90 minutes and was carried out from 2012 to 2015 between 11:00 and 13:30 hours. We recorded and described the movements, actions and positions of adult females and males in twenty-four seep willows shrubs randomly chosen. Each description begins when the beetles emerges from the soil and finishes when they began to cut up the leaves with the mandibles.

Data analysis

The sequences of behavioral patterns obtained of the interaction between rose chafers and seep willow were measured and flow charts of these sequences were developed. The percentage of times that a particular action pattern follows another (given the first action pattern), and transitions duration were calculated. The principal behavior patterns were described in an ethogram and patterns-transitions sequences were represented in a kinematic diagram.

Leaves volatiles extraction and identification

A directed sampling was conducted to obtain leaves of the same size and healthy appearance from seep willow shrubs. For each extraction, six leaves with same size and weight were introduced on filter-paper at the bottom of the SPME recipient. Polydimethylsiloxane / Divinylbenzene (PDMS/DVB, 65 ^m) fiber coating was used. The holder with the PDMS/DVB fiber coating was placed on the entrance of the upper section for 60 min, capturing the leaves volatiles. We performed a blank experiment for each extraction. For each of the leaves and blank experiments, we performed ten repetitions (n = 10).

The volatiles isolated by SPME were identified in a coupled-gas chromatography 7890B coupled with a high-resolution mass spectrometer Agilent 7200 (Q-TOF), equipped with a HP-5MS 5% phenyl- methyl-siloxane column, of 30m diameter x 0.25^m of inner diameter. The conditions during this analysis were: 250 °C for the injector temperature, splitless injection mode and helium 1.2 ml/min as the carrying gas. The initial temperature was of 50 °C; it was maintained for 5 minutes until it reached 300 °C at a speed of 10 °C/min.

A spectral comparison of the chromatogram peaks was used to identify the volatile constituents of the leaves. In the mass detector we used chemical ionization with methane to produce ions that were assigned to different chromatogram peaks. Based on the proposed chemical structures from Pherobase database and specialized articles, we calculated de exact mass of the detected compounds and the mass/ charge difference (Am/z) and chemical structures were proposed.


Behavioral records

The behavioral patterns shown by females of M. nigripes are shown in Table 1, as well as patterns and transitions sequences are presented in Figure 1. Females emerge from the soil at 11:00 hours and travel in short flights to seep willow shrubs. This movement lasts, on average, 240 secs. Each female settle on the leaf and moves forward and backward for 7 secs, stopping in the superior or posterior leaf margin, positioning itself opposite to the soil and hanging with their legs. Right away, they start moving their abdomen in circles (rotates around its own axis), lifting it in a 45° angle and periodically moving up and down their metatarsus, constantly rubbing them during short periods of time. It has been suggested that this behavior corresponds to the ‘calling’ in this species (Romero-López et al., 2010). In this position or settling on the leaf margin, the females put their mandibles on the leaf margin and starts moving them from right to left for 82 secs obtaining small leaf fragments to ingest. These mandibles movements could be the feeding behavior of M. nigripes. Males emerge from the soil 30 seconds after the females repeating the females’ behavior, except for the abdomen movement.

Table 1 Description of the basic body movements and behavior patterns of females and males of Macrodactylus nigripes. 

Figure 1.  Kinematic diagram of the interactions between females and males of Macrodactylus nigripes and seep willow plants in field observations. Circles and arrows represent the behavior patterns and transitions between behavior patterns, respectively. The numbers into circles and the numbers associated with arrows represent observed frecuencies (in percentages) of successive behavior patterns and transitions of a complex behavioral sequence. The size of the circles is proportional to the relative frequency of each behavior pattern. The width of the arrow is proportional to the relative frequency of transition. F= Fligth; S= Settling on the leaf and recognition; M= Movements of mandibles to cut the leaf; Nf= Not directed flight; Nm= Not movements of mandibles; C= Calling. White circle= Emergency of females and males from soil / Black circles= Principal behavioral sequence/Dotted line circle= Sexual behavior pattern / White arrow= Transitions after the emergency of females and males from soil/Continue line arrows= Principal transitions behavioral sequence/Dotted line arrows= Connection between interaction plan-insect and sexual behavior transitions 

Leaves volátiles identification

We obtained fifteen chromatogram peaks from which ten were related to chemical compounds structures. Each chromatogram peak with its retention time (RT), molecular ion exact mass, error valúes (Am/z) and proposed structure are shown in Table 2. Peak 10 with a retention time of 16.82 minutes was the most intensive peak. We found peaks b1, b2, b3 and b4 also in the blank (Table 2, Figure 2).

Table 2 Proposed structures for the extracted volatiles of seep willow leaves by SPME and CG-MS. 

PN= peak number; RT= retention time; Am/z= error values.

Figure 2 Chromatogram of the volátiles of Baccharissalicifolia leaves extracted using the SPME and GC-MS techniques. 


This is the first study that describes at the same time the feeding behavior and the plant- insect interaction of any Melolonthidae species. Previous studies have only reported these aspects separately. For sexual activity, Romero-López et al. (2007)) provided a brief description of the pre-mating behavior of four Phyllophaga species on the leaves of Quercus sp. Also, has been described the pre-mating behavior of Phyllophaga obsoleta Blanchard and some interactions between the adults of this species and leaves of Bouganvillea sp. (Romero-López and Arzuffi, 2010). However, both studies do not provide details of the plant-insect interaction. Another studies, tested the preference of M. nigripes adults for different chemical stimuli, including B. salicifolia leaves using a portable olfactometer (Nieves-Silva and Romero-López, 2016). For plant-insect interactions, Ruther et al. (2002)) demonstrated that the volatiles of the host plant of Melolontha hippocastani F. combined with a sex pheromone function as attractants of adults of this species. Baccharis conferta (Kunth) has been reported as a host plant of M. nigripes (Arce- Pérez and Morón, 2000). It is well known that plant species from the same family and genus share about 45-50% of their chemicals (Bottia et al., 2007; Vazquez et al., 2007).For other hand, in this study has been recorded the presence of cumene in B. salicifolia leaves. This chemical compound has also been reported for Baccharis dentata (Vell.) (Xavier et al., 2012). The chemicals calamene, a-pinene and P-pinene have been previously described for B. salicifolia using the hydrodistillation method (Loayza et al., 1995; Malizia et al., 2005; Carrizo et al., 2009; Budel et al., 2018). The use of different techniques to obtain volatile compounds influence in their detection, however, also influence the biotic and abiotic factors and even the sex of the plant (Drijfhout, 2010; Zuccolotto et al., 2019). The hydrodistillation technique has been used for the extraction of compounds of the genus Baccharis for medicinal purposes, but this technique can only extract volatiles carried by water vapor (Salomé-Abarca et al., 2015).

In this study we used the SPME which has been reported as the appropriate method for volatile compounds extraction in chemical ecology (Drijfhout, 2010). We also report the presence of phenylmethanol in B. salicifolia leaves. This compound has been documented as an attractant of the Melolonthidae species Holotrichia oblita Faldermann, Holotrichia parallela Motschulsky, Maladera orientalis Motschulsky, Anomala corpulenta Motschulsky, Anomala octiescostata Burmeister and Popillia guadriguttata F. (El- Sayed, 2019). Future studies should be focused in proving the biological activity of the phenylmethanol as an attractant of M. nigripes and other rose chafer species.


Three principal behavior patterns of females and males of M. nigripes interactions with leaves of seep willow were observed: directed flight, settling and mandibles movements to cut leaves, and concurrently the females display a similar behavioral sequence to calling. The most abundant volatile compounds such as trimethylindan, a-pinene, ciclohexylbenzene, as well as phenylmethanol previously reported, could have an important role in the attraction of M. nigripes


To VIEP project ROLA-NAT16-I. We extend our gratitude to Laboratorio de Adsorción y Cromatografía of Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, for the extraction of volatile compounds.


Altmann, J. 1984. Observational sampling methods for insect behavioural ecology. Florida Entomologist. 67:50-55. DOI:10.2307/3494104. [ Links ]

Arce-Pérez, R. and Morón, M. A. 2000. Taxonomía y distribución de las especies de Macrodactylus Latreille Coleoptera:Melolonthidae) en México y Estados Unidos de América. Acta Zoológica Mexicana 79:123-239. [ Links ]

Bottia, E. J., Díaz, O. L., Mendivelso, D. L., Martínez, J. R. and Stashenko, E. E. 2007. Comparación de la composición química de los metabolitos secundarios volátiles de cuatro plantas de la familia Piperaceae obtenidos por destilación-extracción simultánea. Scientia et Technica 8(33): 193-195. [ Links ]

Budel, J. M.; Wang, M.; Raman, V.; Zhao, J.; Khan, S. I.; Rehman, J. U.; Techen, N.; Tekwani, B.; Monteiro, L. M.; Heiden, G.; Takeda, I. J. M.; Farago, P. V. and Khan, I. A. 2018. Essential oils of five Baccharis species:investigations on the chemical composition and biological activities. Molecules, 23(10):2620. [ Links ]

Carrizo, R.; Ponzi, M.; Ardanaz, C.; Tonn, C. E. and Donadel, O. J. 2009. Chemical composition of essential oil of Baccharis salicifolia Ruiz and Pavon) Pers. and antibacterial activity. Journal of the Chilean Chemical Society 54(4):475-476. [ Links ]

Drijfhout, F. 2010. Chemical Ecology. In: ELS. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd: Chichester. [ Links ]

El-Sayed, A. M. 2019. The Pherobase: Database of Pheromones and Semiochemicals. [ Links ]

Gonzaga, L.; Costa, I. and Geraldo M. 2005. Género Baccharis Asteraceae): Aspectos químicos, económicos y biológicos. Química nova, 28(1):85-94. [ Links ]

Guzmán-Mendoza, R.; Salas-Araiza, M. D.; Calzontzi-Marín, J.; Martínez-Yáñez, R. and Pérez-Moreno, L. 2016. Efectos de la fertilización en cultivos de maíz sobre la abundancia y distribución de Macrodactylus nigripes Coleóptera:Malolonthidae) de las tierras altas del centro de México. Acta Universitaria 26(1):3- 11. [ Links ]

Heiden, G.; Baumgratz, J. F. A. and Esteves, R. L. 2012. Baccharis subge. (Molina Asteraceae) no estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. Rodriguésia, 63(3):649-687. [ Links ]

Knolhoff, L. M. and Heckel, D. G. 2014. Behavioral assays for studies of host plant choice and adaptation in herbivorous insects. Annual Review of Entomology 59:263-278. DOI: 10.1146/annurevento-011613-161945. [ Links ]

Loayza, I.; Abujder, D.; Aranda, R.; Jakupovic, J.; Collin, G.; Deslauriers, H. and Jean, F. 1995. Essential oils of Baccharis salicifolia, B. latifolia and B. dracunculifolia. Phytochemistry 38(2):381-389. [ Links ]

Loughrin, J. H.; Potter, D. A. and Hamilton-Kemp, T.R. 1995. Volatile compounds induced by herbivory act as aggregation kairomones for the Japanese beetle Popillia japonica Newman. Journal of Chemical Ecology 21(10):1457-1467. DOI:10.1007/BF02035145. [ Links ]

Malizia, R. A.; Cardell, A.; Molli. J. S.; González, S.; Guerra, P. E. and Grau, R. J. 2005. Volatile constituents of leaf oils from the genus Baccharis. Part II:Baccharis obovata Hokker et Arnott and B. salicifolia Ruiz et Pav.) pers. Species from Argentina. Journal of Essential Oil Research 17(2): 194-197. [ Links ]

Nieves-Silva, E. and Romero-López, A. A. 2016. Olfatómetro portátil para el estudio de interacciones en frailecillos Coleoptera (Melolonthidae) y plantas. Entomología Mexicana 3:516-522. [ Links ]

Reinecke, A.; Ruther, J. and Hilker, M. 2002. The scent of food and defense: green leaf volatiles and toluquinone as sex attractant mediate mate finding in the European cockchafer Melolontha melolontha. Ecology Letters 5(2):257-263. [ Links ]

Romero-López, A. A. and Arzuffi, R. 2010. Evidencias sobre la producción y liberación de compuestos bioactivos de un melolóntido mexicano. En L. A. Rodríguez del Bosque y M. A. Morón Eds. Ecología y Control de Plagas Edafícolas. Publicación especial del Instituto de Ecología A.C. pp. 203-222. México. [ Links ]

Romero-López, A. A.; Arzuffi, R. and Morón, M. A. Eds. 2010. Plagas del suelo. Editorial Mundi-Prensa, México 417 pp. [ Links ]

Romero-López, A.A.; Aragón, A. and Arzuffi, R. 2007. Estudio comparativo del comportamiento sexual de cuatro especies de Phyllophaga Coleoptera:Melolonthidae. En E. G. Estrada, A. Equihua, C. Luna, J.L. Rosas-Acevedo Eds. Sociedad Mexicana de Entomología. Entomología mexicana 6:275-281. [ Links ]

Ruther, J.; Reinecke, A. and Hilker, M. 2002. Plant volatiles in the sexual communication of Melolontha hippocastani: response towards time dependent bouquets and novel function of Z)- 3-hexen-1-ol as a sexual kairomone. Ecological Entomology 27(1):76. [ Links ]

Ruther, J.; Reinecke, A.; Thiemann, K.; Tolasch, T.; Francke, W. and Hilker, M. 2000. Mate finding in the forest cockchafer Melolontha hippocastani, media ted by volatiles from plants and females. Physiological Entomology 25(2):172-179. [ Links ]

Salomé-Abarca, L. F.; Soto-Hernández, R. M.; Cruz- Huerta, N. and González-Hernández, V. A. 2015. Chemical composition of scented extracts obtained from Calendula officinalis by three extraction methods. Botanical Sciences 93(3):633-638. [ Links ]

Vazquez, A. M.; Goleniowski, M.; Brunetti, P.; Cantero, J. J.; Demmel, M. G.; Criado, S.; Ferrari, M. C. and Aimar, M. L. 2007. Estudio comparativo de la composición química compuestos orgánicos volátiles) por HS-SPME/GC-MS de Hedeoma multiflora Benth. (Lamiaceae), micropropagadas y de poblaciones silvestres. Boletín Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Plantas Medicinales y Aromáticas 6(5):284-285. [ Links ]

Williams, R. N.; McGovern, T. P.; Klein, M. G. and Fickle, D. S. 1990. Rose chafer Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae):improved attractants for adults. Journal of Economic Entomology 83:11-116. [ Links ]

Xavier, V. B.; Vargas, R. M. F.; Cassel, E.; Lucas, A. M.; Santos, M. A.; Mondin, C. A.; Santarem, E. R.; Astarita, L. V. and Sartor, T. 2012. Mathematical modeling for extraction of essential oil from Baccharis spp. by steam distillation. Industrial Crops and Products 33(3):599-604. [ Links ]

Zuccolotto, T.; Bressan, J.; Lourenco, A. V. F.; Bruginski, E.; Veiga, A.; Marinho, J. V.N.; Raeski, P. A.; Heiden, G.; Salvador, M. J.; Murakami, F. S.; Budel, J. M. and Campos, F. R. 2019. Chemical, antioxidant, and antimicrobial evaluation of essential oils and anatomical study of the aerials parts from Baccharis species Asteracea. Chemistry and Biodiversity 16(4). ]

Received: March 16, 2018; Accepted: August 10, 2019


Creative Commons License This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License