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Plant Signal Behav. 2007 Jan;2(1):1-3.

Insect regurgitant and wounding elicit similar defense responses in poplar leaves: not something to spit at?

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  • 1Centre for Forest Biology & Biology Department; University of Victoria; Victoria, Canada.


How plants perceive insect attacks is an area of active research. Numerous studies have shown that regurgitant from feeding insects elicits a defense response in plants, which is often assumed to be distinct from a wound response. We have characterized the inducible defense response in hybrid poplar and found it to be qualitatively similar between wounding and application of regurgitant from forest tent caterpillar. We suggest that this is likely attributable to our wounding treatment which is much more intense compared to most other studies. These overlapping responses appear to be activated via jasmonic acid signaling, and we speculate that they are both triggered by elicitors of plant origin. Wounding would release such elicitor molecules when leaf cells are disrupted, and regurgitant may contain them in a modified or processed form. This hypothesis could explain why some other necrosis-inducing stresses also induce herbivore defense genes.


Pasmonate; Populus; elicitor; herbivory; plant-insect interaction; systemic defense; trypsin inhibitor

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