• defence;
  • jasmonic acid;
  • terpenes


Tomato plants release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) following insect or mechanical damage. In this study, the constitutive and wound-induced emission levels of VOCs in suppressor of prosystemin-mediated responses2 (spr2) mutant plants, compromised in linolenic acid (LA) and jasmonic acid (JA) synthesis, and in 35S::prosystemin (35S::prosys) plants, having upregulated direct defence responses, were compared. The spr2 mutants produced constitutively lower levels of VOCs, which were nonetheless increased in response to (a)biotic damage, although at lower levels than wild-type (Wt) and 35S::prosys plants. No significant differences in VOC emissions were detected between the latter two genotypes, thereby suggesting that systemin does not regulate indirect defence responses, whereas differences in fatty acid composition in spr2 plants led to the predominant emission of saturated C6 volatiles in response to wounding. The expression of 1-deoxy-d-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS2), a key gene involved in VOC synthesis in the chloroplast, was only upregulated in Manduca sexta L.-damaged Wt and 35S::prosys plants. However, its expression was restored in spr2 plants by exogenous LA or JA, suggesting that abated VOC emissions in spr2 plants are correlated with lowered DXS2 expression. Bioassays with two different insects showed that adult females significantly preferred spr2 plants, indicating that lowered levels of VOCs in tomato influence plant selection by insects during oviposition.