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Plant Physiol. 2006 Dec;142(4):1751-8. Epub 2006 Oct 27.

Systemin in Solanum nigrum. The tomato-homologous polypeptide does not mediate direct defense responses.

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


We extend Ryan's seminal work on the 18-amino acid polypeptide systemin in tomato's (Solanum lycopersicum) systemic wound response to the closely related solanaceous species Solanum nigrum. We compared wild-type plants to plants transformed with an inverted repeat prosystemin construct (IRSys) to silence the expression of the endogenous S. nigrum prosystemin gene. In wild-type plants elicited with wounding + oral secretions from Manduca sexta larvae, trypsin-proteinase inhibitors (TPIs) accumulated even though prosystemin transcripts were down-regulated. Neither reducing the endogenous systemin levels by RNAi nor complementing the plants with systemin by exogenously supplying the polypeptide through excised stems significantly increased TPI activity, indicating that systemin and TPIs are not correlated in S. nigrum. The performance of two herbivore species from two feeding guilds, M. sexta larvae and Myzus persicae nicotianae, did not differ between wild-type and IRSys plants, demonstrating that varying endogenous systemin levels do not alter the direct defenses of S. nigrum. Field experiments with wild-type and IRSys plants and the flea beetle Epitrix pubescens supported these glasshouse data. That levels of oral secretion-elicited jasmonic acid did not differ between wild-type and IRSys plants suggests that systemin is unlikely to mediate jasmonate signaling in S. nigrum as it does in tomato. We conclude that the tomato-homologous polypeptide does not mediate direct defense responses in S. nigrum.

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