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J Chem Ecol. 2003 Mar;29(3):763-70.

Constraints to herbivore-induced systemic responses: bidirectional signaling along orthostichies in Nicotiana attenuata.

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Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Winzerlaer Strasse 10, D-07745 Jena, Germany.


We investigated the impact of leaf vascular connections on systemically transmitted herbivore-induced gene expression in Nicotiana attenuata. Although systemic signaling is clearly associated with the plant vascular system, few studies consider vascular architecture when measuring systemically induced defenses. N. attenuata is a plant with dispersed phyllotaxis approximating 3/8 in the rosette stage of growth. We mimicked Manduca sexta herbivory by introducing larval regurgitant to wounds produced with a standardized continuous mechanical wounding and investigated mRNA accumulation of genes. Herbivory in N. attenuata induces the expression of genes coding for a proteinase inhibitor protein (PI), threonine deaminase (TD, EC, a luminal-binding protein (BiP), and an alpha-dioxygenase (alpha-DOX). We measured the systemic response of sink leaves when orthostichous (growing at an angular distance of 0 degrees) source leaves were treated, and vice versa, and compared it to the systemic response of leaves growing at the maximum angular distance of 180 degrees. Vascular architecture clearly controlled the intensity of systemic mRNA accumulation within the 4-hr time frame of the experiment. In addition, we found signal translocation to be bidirectional, travelling from source to sink as well as from sink to source leaves, which argues against a phloem-based assimilate-linked signal identity.

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