An herbivore elicitor activates the gene for indole emission in maize

Monika Frey, Cornelia Stettner, Paul W. Paré, Eric A. Schmelz, James H. Tumlinson, Alfons Gierl

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230 Scopus citations


Maize and a variety of other plant species release volatile compounds in response to herbivore attack that serve as chemical cues to signal natural enemies of the feeding herbivore. N-(17-hydroxylinolenoyl)-L-glutamine is an elicitor component that has been isolated and chemically characterized from the regurgitant of the herbivore-pest beet armyworm. This fatty acid derivative, referred to as volicitin, triggers the synthesis and release of volatile components, including terpenoids and indole in maize. Here we report on a previously unidentified enzyme, indole-3-glycerol phosphate lyase (IGL), that catalyzes the formation of free indole and is selectively activated by volicitin. IGL's enzymatic properties are similar to BX1, a maize enzyme that serves as the entry point to the secondary defense metabolites DIBOA and DIMBOA. Gene-sequence analysis indicates that Igl and Bx1 are evolutionarily related to the tryptophan synthase alpha subunit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14801-14806
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
StatePublished - Dec 19 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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