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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2002;53:299-328.

Plant responses to insect herbivory: the emerging molecular analysis.

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Department of Molecular Ecology, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena 07745, Germany.


Plants respond to herbivore attack with a bewildering array of responses, broadly categorized as direct and indirect defenses, and tolerance. Plant-herbivore interactions are played out on spatial scales that include the cellular responses, well-studied in plant-pathogen interactions, as well as responses that function at whole-plant and community levels. The plant's wound response plays a central role but is frequently altered by insect-specific elicitors, giving plants the potential to optimize their defenses. In this review, we emphasize studies that advance the molecular understanding of elicited direct and indirect defenses and include verifications with insect bioassays. Large-scale transcriptional changes accompany insect-induced resistance, which is organized into specific temporal and spatial patterns and points to the existence of herbivore-specific trans-activating elements orchestrating the responses. Such organizational elements could help elucidate the molecular control over the diversity of responses elicited by herbivore attack.

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