DELLA proteins modulate Arabidopsis defences induced in response to caterpillar herbivory.
ABSTRACT: Upon insect herbivory, many plant species change the direction of metabolic flux from growth into defence. Two key pathways modulating these processes are the gibberellin (GA)/DELLA pathway and the jasmonate pathway. In this study, the effect of caterpillar herbivory on plant-induced responses was compared between wild-type Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. and quad-della mutants that have constitutively elevated GA responses. The labial saliva (LS) of caterpillars of the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua, is known to influence induced plant defence responses. To determine the role of this herbivore cue in determining metabolic shifts, plants were subject to herbivory by caterpillars with intact or impaired LS secretions. In both wild-type and quad-della plants, a jasmonate burst is an early response to caterpillar herbivory. Negative growth regulator DELLA proteins are required for the LS-mediated suppression of hormone levels. Jasmonate-dependent marker genes are induced in response to herbivory independently of LS, with the exception of AtPDF1.2 that showed LS-dependent expression in the quad-della mutant. Early expression of the salicylic acid (SA)-marker gene, AtPR1, was not affected by herbivory which also reflected SA hormone levels; however, this gene showed LS-dependent expression in the quad-della mutant. DELLA proteins may positively regulate glucosinolate levels and suppress laccase-like multicopper oxidase activity in response to herbivory. The present results show a link between DELLA proteins and early, induced plant defences in response to insect herbivory; in particular, these proteins are necessary for caterpillar LS-associated attenuation of defence hormones.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:The oxylipin methyl jasmonate (MeJA) is a plant hormone active in response signalling and defence against herbivores. Although MeJA is applied experimentally to mimic herbivory and induce plant defences, its downstream effects on the plant metabolome are largely uncharacterized, especially in the context of primary growth and tissue-specificity of the response. OBJECTIVES:We investigated the effects of MeJA-simulated and real caterpillar herbivory on the foliar metabolome of the wild plant Brassica nigra and monitored the herbivore-induced responses in relation to leaf ontogeny. METHODS:As single or multiple herbivory treatments, MeJA- and mock-sprayed plants were consecutively exposed to caterpillars or left untreated. Gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC) time-of-flight mass-spectrometry (TOF-MS) were combined to analyse foliar compounds, including central primary and specialized defensive plant metabolites. RESULTS:Plant responses were stronger in young leaves, which simultaneously induced higher chlorophyll levels. Both MeJA and caterpillar herbivory induced similar, but not identical, accumulation of tricarboxylic acids (TCAs), glucosinolates (GSLs) and phenylpropanoids (PPs), but only caterpillar feeding led to depletion of amino acids. MeJA followed by caterpillars caused higher induction of defence compounds, including a three-fold increase in the major defence compound allyl-GSL (sinigrin). When feeding on MeJA-treated plants, caterpillars gained less weight indicative of the reduced host-plant quality and enhanced resistance. CONCLUSIONS:The metabolomics approach showed that plant responses induced by herbivory extend beyond the regulation of defence metabolism and are tightly modulated throughout leaf development. This leads to a new understanding of the plant metabolic potential that can be exploited for future plant protection strategies.
Project description:Plant-mediated interactions are an important force in insect ecology. Through such interactions, herbivores feeding on leaves can affect root feeders. However, the mechanisms regulating the effects of above-ground herbivory on below-ground herbivores are poorly understood. Here, we investigated the performance of cabbage root fly larvae (Delia radicum) on cabbage plants (Brassica oleracea) previously exposed to above ground herbivores belonging to two feeding guilds: leaf chewing diamondback moth caterpillars (Plutella xylostella) or phloem-feeding cabbage aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae). Our study focusses on root-herbivore performance and defence signalling in primary roots by quantifying phytohormones and gene expression. We show that leaf herbivory by caterpillars, but not by aphids, strongly attenuates root herbivore performance. Above-ground herbivory causes changes in primary roots in terms of gene transcripts and metabolites involved in plant defence. Feeding by below-ground herbivores strongly induces the jasmonate pathway in primary roots. Caterpillars feeding on leaves cause a slight induction of the primary root jasmonate pathway and interact with plant defence signalling in response to root herbivores. In conclusion, feeding by a leaf chewer and a phloem feeder differentially affects root-herbivore performance, root-herbivore-induced phytohormonal signalling, and secondary metabolites.
Project description:Herbivory can induce both general and specific responses in plants that modify direct and indirect defence against subsequent herbivory. The type of induction (local versus systemic induction, single versus multiple defence induction) likely depends both on herbivore identity and relationships among different responses. We examined the effects of two above-ground chewing herbivores (caterpillar, weevil) and one sucking herbivore (aphid) on indirect defence responses in leaves and direct defence responses in both leaves and roots of tallow tree, Triadica sebifera. We also included foliar applications of methyl jasmonate (MeJA) and salicylic acid (SA). We found that chewing herbivores and MeJA increased above-ground defence chemicals but SA only increased below-ground total flavonoids. Herbivory or MeJA increased above-ground indirect defence response (extrafloral nectar) but SA decreased it. Principal component analysis showed there was a trade-off between increasing total root phenolics and tannins (MeJA, chewing) versus latex and total root flavonoids (aphid, SA). For individual flavonoids, there was evidence for systemic induction (quercetin), trade-offs between compounds (quercetin versus kaempferitrin) and trade-offs between above-ground versus below-ground production (isoquercetin). Our results suggest that direct and indirect defence responses in leaves and roots depend on herbivore host range and specificity along with feeding mode. We detected relationships among some defence response types, while others were independent. Including multiple types of insects to examine defence inductions in leaves and roots may better elucidate the complexity and specificity of defence responses of plants.
Project description:Plants can use induced volatiles to detect herbivore- and pathogen-attacked neighbors and prime their defenses. Several individual volatile priming cues have been identified, but whether plants are able to integrate multiple cues from stress-related volatile blends remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated how maize plants respond to two herbivore-induced volatile priming cues with complementary information content, the green leaf volatile (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate (HAC) and the aromatic volatile indole. In the absence of herbivory, HAC directly induced defence gene expression, whereas indole had no effect. Upon induction by simulated herbivory, both volatiles increased jasmonate signalling, defence gene expression, and defensive secondary metabolite production and increased plant resistance. Plant resistance to caterpillars was more strongly induced in dual volatile-exposed plants than plants exposed to single volatiles.. Induced defence levels in dual volatile-exposed plants were significantly higher than predicted from the added effects of the individual volatiles, with the exception of induced plant volatile production, which showed no increase upon dual-exposure relative to single exposure. Thus, plants can integrate different volatile cues into strong and specific responses that promote herbivore defence induction and resistance. Integrating multiple volatiles may be beneficial, as volatile blends are more reliable indicators of future stress than single cues.
Project description:Anthocyanins and flavonols are secondary metabolites that can function in plant defence against herbivores. In Arabidopsis thaliana, anthocyanin and flavonol biosynthesis are regulated by MYB transcription factors. Overexpression of MYB75 (oxMYB75) in Arabidopsis results in increasing anthocyanin and flavonol levels which enhances plant resistance to generalist caterpillars. However, how these metabolites affect specialist herbivores has remained unknown. Performance of a specialist aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae) was unaffected after feeding on oxMYB75 plants, whereas a specialist caterpillar (Pieris brassicae) gained significantly higher body mass when feeding on this plant. An increase in anthocyanin and total flavonol glycoside levels correlated negatively with the body mass of caterpillars fed on oxMYB75 plants. However, a significant reduction of kaempferol-3,7-dirhamnoside (KRR) corresponded to an increased susceptibility of oxMYB75 plants to caterpillar feeding. Pieris brassicae caterpillars also grew less on an artificial diet containing KRR or on oxMYB75 plants that were exogenously treated with KRR, supporting KRR's function in direct defence against this specialist caterpillar. The results show that enhancing the activity of the anthocyanin pathway in oxMYB75 plants results in re-channelling of quercetin/kaempferol metabolites which has a negative effect on the accumulation of KRR, a novel defensive metabolite against a specialist caterpillar.
Project description:Plants frequently respond to herbivorous insect attack by synthesizing defense proteins that deter insect feeding and prevent additional herbivory. Maize (Zea mays L.) lines, resistant to feeding by a number of lepidopteran species, rapidly mobilize a unique 33-kDa cysteine protease in response to caterpillar feeding. The accumulation of the 33-kDa cysteine protease in the maize mid-whorl was correlated with a significant reduction in caterpillar growth that resulted from impaired nutrient utilization. Black Mexican Sweetcorn callus transformed with mir1, the gene encoding the 33-kDa cysteine protease, expressed the protease and growth of caterpillars reared on the transgenic callus was reduced 60-80%. Scanning electron microscopy was used to examine the effect of plant material expressing the 33-kDa cysteine protease on the structure of the caterpillar peritrophic matrix. Because the peritrophic matrix surrounds the food bolus, assists in digestive processes, and protects the caterpillar midgut from physical and chemical damage, disruption of peritrophic matrix may reduce caterpillar growth. The results indicated that the peritrophic matrix was severely damaged when caterpillars fed on resistant maize plants or transgenic Black Mexican Sweetcorn. The accumulation of the 33-kDa cysteine protease in response to caterpillar feeding, and its ability to damage the insect peritrophic matrix, represents an unusual host-plant resistance mechanism that may have applications in agricultural biotechnology.
Project description:Plant volatiles influence host selection of herbivorous insects. Since volatiles often vary in space and time, herbivores (especially polyphagous ones) may be able to use these compounds as cues to track variation in host plant quality based on their innate abilities and previous experience. We investigated the behavioral response of naïve (fed on artificial diet) and experienced (fed on poplar) gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) caterpillars, a polyphagous species, towards constitutive and herbivore-induced black poplar (Populus nigra) volatiles at different stages of herbivore attack. In Y-tube olfactometer assays, both naïve and experienced caterpillars were attracted to constitutive volatiles and volatiles released after short-term herbivory (up to 6 hr). Naïve caterpillars also were attracted to volatiles released after longer-term herbivory (24-30 hr), but experienced caterpillars preferred the odor of undamaged foliage. A multivariate statistical analysis comparing the volatile emission of undamaged plants vs. plants after short and longer-term herbivory, suggested various compounds as being responsible for distinguishing between the odors of these plants. Ten compounds were selected for individual testing of caterpillar behavioral responses in a four-arm olfactometer. Naïve caterpillars spent more time in arms containing (Z)-3-hexenol and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate than in solvent permeated arms, while avoiding benzyl cyanide and salicyl aldehyde. Experienced caterpillars avoided benzyl cyanide and preferred (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate and the homoterpene (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT) over solvent. Only responses to DMNT were significantly different when comparing experienced and naïve caterpillars. The results show that gypsy moth caterpillars display an innate behavioral response towards constitutive and herbivore-induced plant volatiles, but also that larval behavior is plastic and can be modulated by previous feeding experience.
Project description:Common mycorrhizal networks (CMNs) link multiple plants together. We hypothesized that CMNs can serve as an underground conduit for transferring herbivore-induced defence signals. We established CMN between two tomato plants in pots with mycorrhizal fungus Funneliformis mosseae, challenged a 'donor' plant with caterpillar Spodoptera litura, and investigated defence responses and insect resistance in neighbouring CMN-connected 'receiver' plants. After CMN establishment caterpillar infestation on 'donor' plant led to increased insect resistance and activities of putative defensive enzymes, induction of defence-related genes and activation of jasmonate (JA) pathway in the 'receiver' plant. However, use of a JA biosynthesis defective mutant spr2 as 'donor' plants resulted in no induction of defence responses and no change in insect resistance in 'receiver' plants, suggesting that JA signalling is required for CMN-mediated interplant communication. These results indicate that plants are able to hijack CMNs for herbivore-induced defence signal transfer and interplant defence communication.
Project description:Bacterial symbionts are known to facilitate a wide range of physiological processes and ecological interactions for their hosts. In spite of this, caterpillars with highly diverse life histories appear to lack resident microbiota. Gut physiology, endogenous digestive enzymes, and limited social interactions may contribute to this pattern, but the consequences of shifts in social activity and diet on caterpillar microbiota are largely unknown. Phengaris alcon caterpillars undergo particularly dramatic social and dietary shifts when they parasitize Myrmica ant colonies, rapidly transitioning from solitary herbivory to ant tending (i.e., receiving protein-rich regurgitations through trophallaxis). This unique life history provides a model for studying interactions between social living, diet, and caterpillar microbiota. Here, we characterized and compared bacterial communities within P. alcon caterpillars before and after their association with ants, using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and quantitative PCR. After being adopted by ants, bacterial communities within P. alcon caterpillars shifted substantially, with a significant increase in alpha diversity and greater consistency in bacterial community composition in terms of beta dissimilarity. We also characterized the bacterial communities within their host ants (Myrmica schencki), food plant (Gentiana cruciata), and soil from ant nest chambers. These data indicated that the aforementioned patterns were influenced by bacteria derived from caterpillars' surrounding environments, rather than through transfers from ants. Thus, while bacterial communities are substantially reorganized over the life cycle of P. alcon caterpillars, it appears that they do not rely on transfers of bacteria from host ants to complete their development.
Project description:Many animals are inhabited by microbial symbionts that influence their hosts' development, physiology, ecological interactions, and evolutionary diversification. However, firm evidence for the existence and functional importance of resident microbiomes in larval Lepidoptera (caterpillars) is lacking, despite the fact that these insects are enormously diverse, major agricultural pests, and dominant herbivores in many ecosystems. Using 16S rRNA gene sequencing and quantitative PCR, we characterized the gut microbiomes of wild leaf-feeding caterpillars in the United States and Costa Rica, representing 124 species from 15 families. Compared with other insects and vertebrates assayed using the same methods, the microbes that we detected in caterpillar guts were unusually low-density and variable among individuals. Furthermore, the abundance and composition of leaf-associated microbes were reflected in the feces of caterpillars consuming the same plants. Thus, microbes ingested with food are present (although possibly dead or dormant) in the caterpillar gut, but host-specific, resident symbionts are largely absent. To test whether transient microbes might still contribute to feeding and development, we conducted an experiment on field-collected caterpillars of the model species Manduca sexta Antibiotic suppression of gut bacterial activity did not significantly affect caterpillar weight gain, development, or survival. The high pH, simple gut structure, and fast transit times that typify caterpillar digestive physiology may prevent microbial colonization. Moreover, host-encoded digestive and detoxification mechanisms likely render microbes unnecessary for caterpillar herbivory. Caterpillars illustrate the potential ecological and evolutionary benefits of independence from symbionts, a lifestyle that may be widespread among animals.