Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae) is one of the most problematic plant invaders in South Africa and has been targeted for biological control for over 50 years. Essential oil constituents which often change in response to insect herbivory are reported to play a crucial role in plant—insect interactions. However, nothing is known about the chemical profiles of essential oils of L. camara varieties in South Africa and how this changes under herbivory. Therefore, essential oils were collected using hydrodistillation from undamaged and insect-damaged leaves of four L. camara varieties and analysed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to elucidate their chemical profiles. A total of 163 compounds were identified from the undamaged leaves of the various L. camara varieties. Feeding by the biocontrol agent Falconia intermedia Distant (Hemiptera: Miridae) resulted in changes in the quality and quantity of chemical constituents of the essential oils. Only 75 compounds were identified from the insect-damaged leaves of L. camara varieties.Terpenes were the major components across the varieties, while caryophyllene, hexane, naphthalene, copaene and α-caryophyllene were commonin all the varieties tested from both undamaged and insect-damaged leaves. Results from this study indicated the chemical distinctiveness of the Whitney Farm variety from other varieties. The changes in chemical concentrations indicated that feeding by the mirid on L. camara varieties causes an induction by either reducing or increasing the chemical concentrations. These inductions following the feeding by F. intermedia could be having a negative impact on the success of biological control against L. camara varieties. However, the focus of this paper is to report on the chemical baseline of L. camara varieties. Hence, comparisons of chemical compound concentrations of L. camara essential oils tested and the feeding-induced changes with respect to their quality and quantity are discussed.
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Vol. 25 • No. 2