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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2008;59:41-66.

Plant immunity to insect herbivores.

Author information

1
Department of Energy-Plant Research Laboratory and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA. howeg@msu.edu

Abstract

Herbivorous insects use diverse feeding strategies to obtain nutrients from their host plants. Rather than acting as passive victims in these interactions, plants respond to herbivory with the production of toxins and defensive proteins that target physiological processes in the insect. Herbivore-challenged plants also emit volatiles that attract insect predators and bolster resistance to future threats. This highly dynamic form of immunity is initiated by the recognition of insect oral secretions and signals from injured plant cells. These initial cues are transmitted within the plant by signal transduction pathways that include calcium ion fluxes, phosphorylation cascades, and, in particular, the jasmonate pathway, which plays a central and conserved role in promoting resistance to a broad spectrum of insects. A detailed understanding of plant immunity to arthropod herbivores will provide new insights into basic mechanisms of chemical communication and plant-animal coevolution and may also facilitate new approaches to crop protection and improvement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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