Herbivore-induced volatile production by Arabidopsis thaliana leads to attraction of the parasitoid Cotesia rubecula: chemical, behavioral, and gene-expression analysis

R M Van Poecke, M A Posthumus, M Dicke
Journal of Chemical Ecology 2001, 27 (10): 1911-28
Many plant species defend themselves against herbivorous insects indirectly by producing volatiles in response to herbivory. These volatiles attract carnivorous enemies of the herbivores. Research on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. has contributed considerably to the unraveling of signal transduction pathways involved in direct plant defense mechanisms against pathogens. Here, we demonstrate that Arabidopsis is also a good candidate for studying signal transduction pathways involved in indirect defense mechanisms by showing that: (1) Adult females of Cotesia rubecula, a specialist parasitic wasp of Pieris rapae caterpillars, are attracted to P. rapae-infested Arabidopsis plants. (2) Arabidopsis infested by P. rapae emits volatiles from several major biosynthetic pathways, including terpenoids and green leaf volatiles. The blends from herbivore-infested and artificially damaged plants are similar. However, differences can be found with respect to a few components of the blend, such as two nitriles and the monoterpene myrcene, that were produced exclusively by caterpillar-infested plants, and methyl salicylate, that was produced in larger amounts by caterpillar-infested plants. (3) Genes from major biosynthetic pathways involved in volatile production are induced by caterpillar feeding. These include AtTPS10, encoding a terpene synthase involved in myrcene production, AtPAL1, encoding phenylalanine ammonia-lyase involved in methyl salicylate production, and AtLOX2 and AtHPL, encoding lipoxygenase and hydroperoxide lyase, respectively, both involved in the production of green leaf volatiles. AtAOS, encoding allene oxide synthase, involved in the production of jasmonic acid, also was induced by herbivory.

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