Send to

Choose Destination
Plant Cell Environ. 2019 Dec;42(12):3293-3307. doi: 10.1111/pce.13628. Epub 2019 Aug 27.

Aboveground phytochemical responses to belowground herbivory in poplar trees and the consequence for leaf herbivore preference.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, 07745, Jena, Germany.
Research Group Biosynthesis/NMR, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, 07745, Jena, Germany.


Belowground (BG) herbivory can influence aboveground (AG) herbivore performance and food preference via changes in plant chemistry. Most evidence for this phenomenon derives from studies in herbaceous plants but studies in woody plants are scarce. Here we investigated whether and how BG herbivory on black poplar (Populus nigra) trees by Melolontha melolontha larvae influences the feeding preference of Lymantria dispar (gypsy moth) caterpillars. In a food choice assay, caterpillars preferred to feed on leaves from trees that had experienced attack by BG herbivores. Therefore, we investigated the effect of BG herbivory on the phytochemical composition of P. nigra trees alone and in combination with AG feeding by L. dispar caterpillars. BG herbivory did not increase systemic AG tree defences like volatile organic compounds, protease inhibitors and salicinoids. Jasmonates and salicylic acid were also not induced by BG herbivory in leaves but abscisic acid concentrations drastically increased together with proline and few other amino acids. Leaf coating experiments with amino acids suggest that proline might be responsible for the caterpillar feeding preference via presumptive phagostimulatory properties. This study shows that BG herbivory in poplar can modify the feeding preference of AG herbivores via phytochemical changes as a consequence of root-to-shoot signaling.


Lymantria dispar; Melolontha melolontha; Salicaceae; abscisic acid (ABA); belowground-aboveground interaction; induced resistance; proline; water stress


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center