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What happens in the pith stays in the pith: tissue-localized defense responses facilitate chemical niche differentiation between two spatially separated herbivores

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Lee,  Gisuk
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Joo,  Youngsung
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;
IMPRS on Ecological Interactions, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Kim,  Sang-Gyu
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Baldwin,  Ian Thomas
Department of Molecular Ecology, Prof. I. T. Baldwin, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Lee, G., Joo, Y., Kim, S.-G., & Baldwin, I. T. (2017). What happens in the pith stays in the pith: tissue-localized defense responses facilitate chemical niche differentiation between two spatially separated herbivores. The Plant Journal, 92(3), 414-425. doi:10.1111/tpj.13663.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-D2F8-1
Abstract
Herbivore attack is known to elicit systemic defense responses that spread throughout the hostplant and influence the performance of other herbivores. While these plant-mediated indirect competitive interactions are well-described, and the co-existence of herbivores from different feeding guilds is common, the mechanisms of co-existence are poorly understood. In both field and glasshouse experiments with a native tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata, we found no evidence of negative interactions when plants were simultaneously attacked by two spatially separated herbivores: a leaf chewer Manduca sexta and a stem borer Trichobaris mucorea. T. mucorea attack elicited jasmonic acid (JA) and jasmonoyl-L-isoleucine bursts in the pith of attacked stems similar to those that occur in leaves when M. sexta attacks N. attenuata leaves. Pith chlorogenic acid (CGA) levels increased 1000-fold to levels 6-fold higher than leaf levels after T. mucorea attack; these increases in pith CGA levels, which did not occur in M. sexta-attacked leaves, required JA signaling. With plants silenced in CGA biosynthesis (irHQT plants), CGA, as well as other caffeic acid-conjugates, was demonstrated in both glasshouse and field experiments to function as a direct defense protecting piths against T. mucorea attack, but not against leaf chewers or sucking insects. T. mucorea attack does not systemically activate JA signaling in leaves, while M. sexta leaf-attack transiently induces detectable but minor pith JA levels that are dwarfed by local responses. We conclude that tissue-localized defense responses allow tissue-specialized herbivores to share the same host and occupy different chemical defense niches in the same hostplant.