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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 30;12(11):e0188522. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188522. eCollection 2017.

Can narrow-bandwidth light from UV-A to green alter secondary plant metabolism and increase Brassica plant defenses against aphids?

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Section of Phytomedicine, Institute of Horticultural Production Systems, Hannover, Germany.
Department Plant Quality, Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Grossbeeren, Germany.


Light of different wavelengths is essential for plant growth and development. Short-wavelength radiation such as UV can shift the composition of flavonoids, glucosinolates, and other plant metabolites responsible for enhanced defense against certain herbivorous insects. The intensity of light-induced, metabolite-based resistance is plant- and insect species-specific and depends on herbivore feeding guild and specialization. The increasing use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in horticultural plant production systems in protected environments enables the creation of tailor-made light scenarios for improved plant cultivation and induced defense against herbivorous insects. In this study, broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) plants were grown in a climate chamber under broad spectra photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) and were additionally treated with the following narrow-bandwidth light generated with LEDs: UV-A (365 nm), violet (420 nm), blue (470 nm), or green (515 nm). We determined the influence of narrow-bandwidth light on broccoli plant growth, secondary plant metabolism (flavonol glycosides and glucosinolates), and plant-mediated light effects on the performance and behavior of the specialized cabbage aphid Brevicoryne brassicae. Green light increased plant height more than UV-A, violet, or blue LED treatments. Among flavonol glycosides, specific quercetin and kaempferol glycosides were increased under violet light. The concentration of 3-indolylmethyl glucosinolate in plants was increased by UV-A treatment. B. brassicae performance was not influenced by the different light qualities, but in host-choice tests, B. brassicae preferred previously blue-illuminated plants (but not UV-A-, violet-, or green-illuminated plants) over control plants.

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