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- PublicationAccès libreChicks of the great spotted cuckoo may turn brood parasitism into mutualism by producing a foul-smelling secretion that repels predatorsThe great spotted cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) is an important brood parasite of carrion crows (Corvus corone corone) in northern Spain. We recently found that, unlike what is commonly known for cuckoo-host interactions, the great spotted cuckoo has no negative impact on average crow fitness in this region. The explanation for this surprising effect is a repulsive secretion that the cuckoo chicks produce when they are harassed and that may protect the brood against predation. Here, we provide details on the chemical composition of the cuckoo secretion, as well as conclusive evidence that the dominating volatile chemicals in the secretion are highly repellent to model species representative of common predators of the crows. These results support the notion that, in this particular system, the production of a repulsive secretion by the cuckoo chicks has turned a normally parasitic interaction into a mutualistic one.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementA specialist root herbivore exploits defensive metabolites to locate nutritious tissuesThe most valuable organs of plants are often particularly rich in essential elements, but also very well defended. This creates a dilemma for herbivores that need to maximise energy intake while minimising intoxication. We investigated how the specialist root herbivore Diabrotica virgifera solves this conundrum when feeding on wild and cultivated maize plants. We found that crown roots of maize seedlings were vital for plant development and, in accordance, were rich in nutritious primary metabolites and contained higher amounts of the insecticidal 2,4-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one (DIMBOA) and the phenolic compound chlorogenic acid. The generalist herbivores Diabrotica balteata and Spodoptera littoralis were deterred from feeding on crown roots, whereas the specialist D. virgifera preferred and grew best on these tissues. Using a 1,4-benzoxazin-3-one-deficient maize mutant, we found that D. virgifera is resistant to DIMBOA and other 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones and that it even hijacks these compounds to optimally forage for nutritious roots.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementMetabolomics reveals herbivore-induced metabolites of resistance and susceptibility in maize leaves and rootsPlants respond to herbivory by reprogramming their metabolism. Most research in this context has focused on locally induced compounds that function as toxins or feeding deterrents. We developed an ultra-high-pressure liquid chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC-TOF-MS)-based metabolomics approach to evaluate local and systemic herbivore-induced changes in maize leaves, sap, roots and root exudates without any prior assumptions about their function. Thirty-two differentially regulated compounds were identified from Spodoptera littoralis-infested maize seedlings and isolated for structure assignment by microflow nuclear magnetic resonance (CapNMR). Nine compounds were quantified by a high throughput direct nano-infusion tandem mass spectrometry/mass spectrometry (MS/MS) method. Leaf infestation led to a marked local increase of 1,3-benzoxazin-4-ones, phospholipids, N-hydroxycinnamoyltyramines, azealic acid and tryptophan. Only few changes were found in the root metabolome, but 1,3-benzoxazin-4-ones increased in the vascular sap and root exudates. The role of N-hydroxycinnamoyltyramines in plantherbivore interactions is unknown, and we therefore tested the effect of the dominating p-coumaroyltyramine on S. littoralis. Unexpectedly, p-coumaroyltyramine was metabolized by the larvae and increased larval growth, possibly by providing additional nitrogen to the insect. Taken together, this study illustrates that herbivore attack leads to the induction of metabolites that can have contrasting effects on herbivore resistance in the leaves and roots.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementInduction and detoxification of maize 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones by insect herbivoresIn monocotyledonous plants, 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones, also referred to as benzoxazinoids or hydroxamic acids, are one of the most important chemical barriers against herbivores. However, knowledge about their behavior after attack, mode of action and potential detoxification by specialized insects remains limited. We chose an innovative analytical approach to understand the role of maize 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones in plant?insect interactions. By combining unbiased metabolomics screening and simultaneous measurements of living and digested plant tissue, we created a quantitative dynamic map of 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones at the plant?insect interface. Hypotheses derived from this map were tested by specifically developed in vitro assays using purified 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones and active extracts from mutant plants lacking 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones. Our data show that maize plants possess a two-step defensive system that effectively fends off both the generalist Spodoptera littoralis and the specialist Spodoptera frugiperda. In the first step, upon insect attack, large quantities of 2-?-d-glucopyranosyloxy-4,7-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one (HDMBOA-Glc) are formed. In the second step, after tissue disruption by the herbivores, highly unstable 2-hydroxy-4,7-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one (HDMBOA) is released by plant-derived ?-glucosidases. HDMBOA acts as a strong deterrent to both S. littoralis and S. frugiperda. Although constitutively produced 1,4-benzoxazin-3-ones such as 2,4-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one (DIMBOA) are detoxified via glycosylation by the insects, no conjugation of HDMBOA in the insect gut was found, which may explain why even the specialist S. frugiperda has not evolved immunity against this plant defense. Taken together, our results show the benefit of using a plant?insect interface approach to elucidate plant defensive processes and unravel a potent resistance mechanism in maize.