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- PublicationMétadonnées seulementGenetically engineered maize plants reveal distinct costs and benefits of constitutive volatile emissions in the fieldGenetic manipulation of plant volatile emissions is a promising tool to enhance plant defences against herbivores. However, the potential costs associated with the manipulation of specific volatile synthase genes are unknown. Therefore, we investigated the physiological and ecological effects of transforming a maize line with a terpene synthase gene in field and laboratory assays, both above- and below ground. The transformation, which resulted in the constitutive emission of (E)--caryophyllene and -humulene, was found to compromise seed germination, plant growth and yield. These physiological costs provide a possible explanation for the inducibility of an (E)--caryophyllene-synthase gene in wild and cultivated maize. The overexpression of the terpene synthase gene did not impair plant resistance nor volatile emission. However, constitutive terpenoid emission increased plant apparency to herbivores, including adults and larvae of the above ground pest Spodoptera frugiperda, resulting in an increase in leaf damage. Although terpenoid overproducing lines were also attractive to the specialist root herbivore Diabrotica virgifera virgifera below ground, they did not suffer more root damage in the field, possibly because of the enhanced attraction of entomopathogenic nematodes. Furthermore, fewer adults of the root herbivore Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardii were found to emerge near plants that emitted (E)--caryophyllene and -humulene. Yet, overall, under the given field conditions, the costs of constitutive volatile production overshadowed its benefits. This study highlights the need for a thorough assessment of the physiological and ecological consequences of genetically engineering plant signals in the field to determine the potential of this approach for sustainable pest management strategies.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementHerbivore-induced plant volatiles mediate host selection by a root herbivoreIn response to herbivore attack, plants mobilize chemical defenses and release distinct bouquets of volatiles. Aboveground herbivores are known to use changes in leaf volatile patterns to make foraging decisions, but it remains unclear whether belowground herbivores also use volatiles to select suitable host plants. We therefore investigated how above- and belowground infestation affects the performance of the root feeder Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, and whether the larvae of this specialized beetle are able to use volatile cues to assess from a distance whether a potential host plant is already under herbivore attack. Diabrotica virgifera larvae showed stronger growth on roots previously attacked by conspecific larvae, but performed more poorly on roots of plants whose leaves had been attacked by larvae of the moth Spodoptera littoralis. Fittingly, D similar to virgifera larvae were attracted to plants that were infested with conspecifics, whereas they avoided plants that were attacked by S similar to littoralis. We identified (E)-beta-caryophyllene, which is induced by D similar to virgifera, and ethylene, which is suppressed by S similar to littoralis, as two signals used by D similar to virgifera larvae to locate plants that are most suitable for their development. Our study demonstrates that soil-dwelling insects can use herbivore-induced changes in root volatile emissions to identify suitable host plants.
- PublicationMétadonnées seulementA specialist root herbivore reduces plant resistance and uses an induced plant volatile to aggregate in a density-dependent manner1. Leaf-herbivore attack often triggers induced resistance in plants. However, certain specialist herbivores can also take advantage of the induced metabolic changes. In some cases, they even manipulate plant resistance, leading to a phenomenon called induced susceptibility. Compared to above-ground plant-insect interactions, little is known about the prevalence and consequences of induced responses below-ground. 2. A recent study suggested that feeding by the specialist root herbivore Diabrotica virgifera virgifera makes maize roots more susceptible to conspecifics. To better understand this phenomenon, we conducted a series of experiments to study the behavioural responses and elucidate the underlying biochemical mechanisms. 3. We found that D. virgifera benefitted from feeding on a root system in groups of intermediate size (39 larvae/plant in the laboratory), whereas its performance was reduced in large groups (12 larvae/plant). Interestingly, the herbivore was able to select host plants with a suitable density of conspecifics by using the induced plant volatile (E)-beta-caryophyllene in a dose-dependent manner. Using a split root experiment, we show that the plant-induced susceptibility is systemic and, therefore, plant mediated. Chemical analyses on plant resource reallocation and defences upon herbivory showed that the systemic induced-susceptibility is likely to stem from a combination of (i) increased free amino acid concentrations and (ii) relaxation of defence inducibility. 4. These findings show that herbivores can use induced plant volatiles in a density-dependent manner to aggregate on a host plant and change its metabolism to their own benefit. Our study furthermore helps to explain the remarkable ecological success of D. virgifera in maize fields around the world.
- PublicationAccès libreThe role of abscisic acid and water stress in root herbivore-induced leaf resistance
Herbivore-induced systemic resistance occurs in many plants and is commonly assumed to be adaptive. The mechanisms triggered by leaf-herbivores that lead to systemic resistance are largely understood, but it remains unknown how and why root herbivory also increases resistance in leaves.
To resolve this, we investigated the mechanism by which the root herbivore Diabrotica virgifera induces resistance against lepidopteran herbivores in the leaves of Zea mays.
Diabrotica virgifera infested plants suffered less aboveground herbivory in the field and showed reduced growth of Spodoptera littoralis caterpillars in the laboratory. Root herbivory did not lead to a jasmonate-dependent response in the leaves, but specifically triggered water loss and abscisic acid (ABA) accumulation. The induction of ABA by itself was partly responsible for the induction of leaf defenses, but not for the resistance against S. littoralis. Root-herbivore induced hydraulic changes in the leaves, however, were crucial for the increase in insect resistance.
We conclude that the induced leaf resistance after root feeding is the result of hydraulic changes, which reduce the quality of the leaves for chewing herbivores. This finding calls into question whether root-herbivore induced leaf-resistance is an evolved response.
- PublicationAccès libreSynergies and trade-offs between insect and pathogen resistance in maize leaves and rootsDetermining links between plant defence strategies is important to understand plant evolution and to optimize crop breeding strategies. Although several examples of synergies and trade-offs between defence traits are known for plants that are under attack by multiple organisms, few studies have attempted to measure correlations of defensive strategies using specific single attackers. Such links are hard to detect in natural populations because they are inherently confounded by the evolutionary history of different ecotypes. We therefore used a range of 20 maize inbred lines with considerable differences in resistance traits to determine if correlations exist between leaf and root resistance against pathogens and insects. Aboveground resistance against insects was positively correlated with the plant's capacity to produce volatiles in response to insect attack. Resistance to herbivores and resistance to a pathogen, on the other hand, were negatively correlated. Our results also give first insights into the intraspecific variability of root volatiles release in maize and its positive correlation with leaf volatile production. We show that the breeding history of the different genotypes (dent versus flint) has influenced several defensive parameters. Taken together, our study demonstrates the importance of genetically determined synergies and trade-offs for plant resistance against insects and pathogens.