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Oecologia. 2006 Aug;149(1):81-90. Epub 2006 Apr 26.

Solar ultraviolet-B radiation alters the attractiveness of Arabidopsis plants to diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella L.): impacts on oviposition and involvement of the jasmonic acid pathway.

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  • 1IFEVA Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas and Universidad de Buenos Aires, Avenida San Martín 4453, C1417DSE, Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Solar ultraviolet-B radiation (UV-B) can have large impacts on the interactions between plants and herbivorous insects. Several studies have documented effects of UV-B-induced changes in plant tissue quality on the feeding performance of insect larvae. In contrast, the effects of UV-B-induced plant responses on the behavior of adult insects have received little attention. We carried out a series of field and glasshouse experiments using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana L. and the crucifer-specialist insect Plutella xylostella L. (diamondback moth) to investigate the effects of UV-B on natural herbivory and plant-insect interactions. Natural herbivory under field conditions was less severe on plants exposed to ambient UV-B than on plants grown under filters that attenuated the UV-B component of solar radiation. This reduced herbivory could not be accounted for by effects of UV-B on larval feeding preference and performance, as P. xylostella caterpillars did not respond to changes in plant quality induced by UV-B. In contrast, at the adult stage, the insects presented clear behavioral responses: P. xylostella moths deposited significantly more eggs on plants grown under attenuated UV-B levels than on plants exposed to ambient UV-B. The deterring effect of UV-B exposure on insect oviposition was absent in jar1-1, a mutant with impaired jasmonic acid (JA) sensitivity, but it was conserved in mutants with altered ethylene signaling. The jar1-1 mutant also presented reduced levels of UV-absorbing phenolic compounds than the other genotypes that we tested. Our results suggest that variations in UV-B exposure under natural conditions can have significant effects on insect herbivory by altering plant traits that female adults use as sources of information during the process of host selection for oviposition. These effects of natural UV-B on plant quality appear to be mediated by activation of signaling circuits in which the defense-related hormone JA plays a functional role.

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