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Keywords:

  • indirect defense;
  • insect–plant interactions;
  • interference;
  • multiple attack;
  • phytohormone

Summary

  • Upon herbivore attack, plants activate an indirect defense, that is, the release of a complex mixture of volatiles that attract natural enemies of the herbivore. When plants are simultaneously exposed to two herbivore species belonging to different feeding guilds, one herbivore may interfere with the indirect plant defense induced by the other herbivore. However, little is understood about the mechanisms underlying such interference.

  • Here, we address the effect of herbivory by the phloem-feeding whitefly Bemisia tabaci on the induced indirect defense of Arabidopsis thaliana plants to Plutella xylostella caterpillars, that is, the attraction of the parasitoid wasp Diadegma semiclausum.

  • Assays with various Arabidopsis mutants reveal that B. tabaci infestation interferes with indirect plant defense induced by P. xylostella, and that intact jasmonic acid and ethylene signaling are required for such interference caused by B. tabaci. Chemical analysis of plant volatiles showed that the composition of the blend emitted in response to the caterpillars was significantly altered by co-infestation with whiteflies. Moreover, whitefly infestation also had a considerable effect on the transcriptomic response of the plant to the caterpillars.

  • Understanding the mechanisms underlying a plant's responses to multiple attackers will be important for the development of crop protection strategies in a multi-attacker context.