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Volatiles produced by soil-borne endophytic bacteria increase plant pathogen resistance and affect tritrophic interactions

Marco D'Alessandro, Matthias Erb, Jurriaan Ton, Anna Brandenburg, Danielle Karlen, Jakob Zopfi & Ted Turlings

Abstract Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by soil microorganisms influence plant growth and pathogen resistance. Yet, very little is known about their influence on herbivores and higher trophic levels. We studied the origin and role of a major bacterial VOC, 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BD), on plant growth, pathogen and herbivore resistance, and the attraction of natural enemies in maize. One of the major contributors to 2,3-BD in the headspace of soil-grown maize seedlings was identified as Enterobacter aerogenes, an endophytic bacterium that colonizes the plants. The production of 2,3-BD by E.?aerogenes rendered maize plants more resistant against the Northern corn leaf blight fungus Setosphaeria turcica. On the contrary, E.?aerogenes-inoculated plants were less resistant against the caterpillar Spodoptera littoralis. The effect of 2,3-BD on the attraction of the parasitoid Cotesia marginiventris was more variable: 2,3-BD application to the headspace of the plants had no effect on the parasitoids, but application to the soil increased parasitoid attraction. Furthermore, inoculation of seeds with E.?aerogenes decreased plant attractiveness, whereas inoculation of soil with a total extract of soil microbes increased parasitoid attraction, suggesting that the effect of 2,3-BD on the parasitoid is indirect and depends on the composition of the microbial community.
   
Keywords 2, 3-butanediol, acetoin, induced systemic resistance, maize, volatile organic compounds
   
Citation D'Alessandro, M., Erb, M., Ton, J., Brandenburg, A., Karlen, D., Zopfi, J., & Turlings, T. (2014). Volatiles produced by soil-borne endophytic bacteria increase plant pathogen resistance and affect tritrophic interactions. Plant, Cell & Environment, 37(4), 813-826.
   
Type Journal article (English)
Date of appearance 2014
Journal Plant, Cell & Environment
Volume 37
Issue 4
Pages 813-826