Foliar herbivory triggers local and long distance defense responses in maize

Arunkanth Ankala, Rowena Y. Kelley, Dennis E. Rowe, William P. Williams, Dawn S. Luthe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Many studies have documented the induction of belowground defenses in plants in response to aboveground herbivory and vice versa, but the genes and signaling molecules mediating systemic induction are not well understood. We performed comparative microarray analysis on maize whorl and root tissues from the insect resistant inbred Mp708 in response to foliar feeding by fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) caterpillars. Although Mp708 has elevated jasmonic acid (JA) levels prior to herbivory, genes involved in JA biosynthesis were up-regulated in whorls in response to fall armyworm feeding. Alternatively, genes possibly involved in regulating ethylene (ET) perception and signaling were up-regulated in roots following foliar herbivory. Transcript levels of genes encoding proteins involved in direct defenses against herbivores were enhanced both in roots and leaves, but transcriptional factors and genes involved in various biosynthetic pathways were selectively down-regulated in the whorl. The results indicate that foliar herbivory by fall armyworm changes root gene expression pathways suggesting profound long distance signaling. Tissue specific induction and suppression of JA and ET signaling pathway genes provides a clue to their possible roles in signaling between the two distant tissue types that eventually triggers defense responses in the roots in response to foliar herbivory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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