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Plant J. 2007 Jul;51(1):79-91. Epub 2007 Jun 11.

Co(i)-ordinating defenses: NaCOI1 mediates herbivore- induced resistance in Nicotiana attenuata and reveals the role of herbivore movement in avoiding defenses.

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Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Department of Molecular Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Strasse 8, 07745 Jena, Germany.


Arabidopsis and tomato plants mutated in the F-box protein COI1 mediating jasmonate (JA) responses are more susceptible to herbivores in laboratory trials, but the exact mechanisms of COI1-mediated resistance are not known. We silenced COI1 by transformation with an inverted repeat construct (ir-coi1) in Nicotiana attenuata, a plant the direct and indirect defenses of which against various herbivores have been well studied. ir-coi1 plants are male sterile and impaired in JA-elicited direct [nicotine, caffeoylputrescine and trypsin proteinase inhibitor (TPI) activity] and indirect (cis-alpha-bergamotene emission) defense responses; responses not elicited by JA treatment (ethylene production and flower TPI activity) were unaffected. Larvae of Manduca sexta, a common herbivore of N. attenuata, gained three times more mass feeding on ir-coi1 than on wild-type (WT) plants in glasshouse experiments. By regularly moving caterpillars to unattacked leaves of the same plant, we demonstrate that larvae on WT plants can grow and consume leaves as fast as those on ir-coi1 plants, a result that underscores the role of COI1 in mediating locally induced resistance in attacked leaves, and the importance of herbivore movement in avoiding the induced defenses of a plant. When transplanted into native habitats in the Great Basin Desert, ir-coi1 plants suffer greatly from damage by the local herbivore community, which includes herbivores not commonly found on N. attenuata WT plants. Choice assays with field-grown plants confirmed the increased attractiveness of ir-coi1 plants for both common and unusual herbivores. We conclude that NaCOI1 is essential for induced resistance in N. attenuata, and that ir-coi1 plants highlight the benefits of herbivore movement for avoiding induced defenses.

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