Herbivore-specific plant volatiles prime neighboring plants for nonspecific defense responses

Bipana Paudel Timilsena, Irmgard Seidl-Adams, James H. Tumlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Plants produce species-specific herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs) after damage. We tested the hypothesis that herbivore-specific HIPVs prime neighboring plants to induce defenses specific to the priming herbivore. Since Manduca sexta (specialist) and Heliothis virescens (generalist) herbivory induced unique HIPV profiles in Nicotiana benthamiana, we used these HIPVs to prime receiver plants for defense responses to simulated herbivory (mechanical wounding and herbivore regurgitant application). Jasmonic acid (JA) accumulations and emitted volatile profiles were monitored as representative defense responses since JA is the major plant hormone involved in wound and defense signaling and HIPVs have been implicated as signals in tritrophic interactions. Herbivore species-specific HIPVs primed neighboring plants, which produced 2 to 4 times more volatiles and JA after simulated herbivory when compared to similarly treated constitutive volatile-exposed plants. However, HIPV-exposed plants accumulated similar amounts of volatiles and JA independent of the combination of priming or challenging herbivore. Furthermore, volatile profiles emitted by primed plants depended only on the challenging herbivore species but not on the species-specific HIPV profile of damaged emitter plants. This suggests that feeding by either herbivore species primed neighboring plants for increased HIPV emissions specific to the subsequently attacking herbivore and is probably controlled by JA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)787-800
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Cell and Environment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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