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Plant Cell Environ. 2009 Sep;32(9):1161-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3040.2009.01943.x. Epub 2009 Jan 22.

Herbivory-induced signalling in plants: perception and action.

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Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll Str. 8, Jena 07745, Germany.


Plants and herbivores have been interacting for millions of years. Over time, plants have evolved mechanisms to defend against herbivore attacks. Herbivore-challenged plants reconfigure their metabolism to produce compounds that are toxic, repellant or anti-digestive for the herbivores. Some compounds are volatile signals that attract the predators of herbivores. All these responses are tightly regulated by a signalling network triggered by the plant's perception machinery. Several compounds that specifically elicit herbivory-induced responses in plants have been isolated from herbivore oral secretions and oviposition fluids. Elicitor perception is rapidly followed by cell membrane depolarization, calcium influx and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation; plants also elevate the concentrations of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and modulate phytohormone levels accordingly. In addition to these reactions in the herbivore-attacked regions of a leaf, defence responses are also mounted in unattacked parts of the attacked leaf and as well in unattacked leaves. In this review, we summarize recent progress in understanding how plants recognize herbivory, the involvement of several important signalling pathways that mediate the responses to herbivore attack and the signals that transduce local into systemic responses.

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