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Defensive changes in maize leaves induced by feeding of Mediterranean corn borer larvae

AuthorsSantiago Carabelos, Rogelio ; Cao Caamaño, Ana ; Butrón Gómez, Ana María ; López-Malvar, Ana; Rodríguez Graña, Víctor Manuel ; Sandoya Miranda, Germán ; Malvar Pintos, Rosa Ana
KeywordsInduced response
Maize antibiosis
Oral secretions
Cell wall hydroxycinnamates
Issue Date15-Feb-2017
PublisherBioMed Central
CitationBMC Plant Biology 17(1): 44 (2017)
Abstract[Background] Plants can respond to insect attack via defense mechanisms that reduce insect performance. In this study, we examined the effects of several treatments applied to two maize genotypes (one resistant, one susceptible) on the subsequent growth and survival of Sesamia nonagrioides Lef. (Mediterranean corn borer, MCB) larvae. The treatments were infestation with MCB larvae, application of MCB regurgitant upon wounding, wounding alone, or exposure to methyl jasmonate, and they were applied at the V6–V8 stage of maize development. We also monitored changes in the concentrations of compounds known to be involved in constitutive resistance, such as cell wall-bound hydroxycinnamates and benzoxazinoids.
[Results] In both maize genotypes, the leaves of plants pre-infested with MCB larvae were less suitable for larval development than those from untreated plants. Application of MCB regurgitant upon wounding, and wounding itself, resulted in leaf tissues becoming less suitable for larval growth than those of pre-infested plants, suggesting that there could be herbivore-associated effector molecules that suppress some wounding responses. A single application of MCB regurgitant did not seem to mimic feeding by MCB larvae, although the results suggested that regurgitant deposited during feeding may have enhanced ferulates and diferulates synthesis in infested vs. control plants. Jasmonic acid may play a role in mediating the maize response to MCB attack, but it did not trigger hydroxycinnamate accumulation in the leaves to a level comparable to that induced by larval leaf feeding. The EP39 maize genotype showed an increase in leaf cell wall strength by increasing hemicellulose cross-linking in response to MCB attack, while induced defenses in the EP42 plants appeared to reflect a broader array of resistance mechanisms.
[Conclusions] The results indicated that leaf feeding by MCB larvae can increase leaf antibiosis against MCB in two maize genotypes with contrasting levels of resistance against this borer. Also, the larval regurgitant played a positive role in eliciting a defense response. We determined the effects of the plant response on larval growth, and detected defense compounds related to borer resistance.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12870-017-0991-9
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