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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53232. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053232. Epub 2013 Jan 2.

Non-photochemical quenching capacity in Arabidopsis thaliana affects herbivore behaviour.

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  • 1Umeå Plant Science Centre, Department of Plant Physiology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Under natural conditions, plants have to cope with numerous stresses, including light-stress and herbivory. This raises intriguing questions regarding possible trade-offs between stress defences and growth. As part of a program designed to address these questions we have compared herbivory defences and damage in wild type Arabidopsis thaliana and two "photoprotection genotypes", npq4 and oePsbS, which respectively lack and overexpress PsbS (a protein that plays a key role in qE-type non-photochemical quenching). In dual-choice feeding experiments both a specialist (Plutella xylostella) and a generalist (Spodoptera littoralis) insect herbivore preferred plants that expressed PsbS most strongly. In contrast, although both herbivores survived equally well on each of the genotypes, for oviposition female P. xylostella adults preferred plants that expressed PsbS least strongly. However, there were no significant differences between the genotypes in levels of the 10 most prominent glucosinolates; key substances in the Arabidopsis anti-herbivore chemical defence arsenal. After transfer from a growth chamber to the field we detected significant differences in the genotypes' metabolomic profiles at all tested time points, using GC-MS, but no consistent "metabolic signature" for the lack of PsbS. These findings suggest that the observed differences in herbivore preferences were due to differences in the primary metabolism of the plants rather than their contents of typical "defence compounds". A potentially significant factor is that superoxide accumulated most rapidly and to the highest levels under high light conditions in npq4 mutants. This could trigger changes in planta that are sensed by herbivores either directly or indirectly, following its dismutation to H(2)O(2).

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