Identification of an insect-produced olfactory cue that primes plant defenses

Anjel M. Helms, Consuelo M. De Moraes, Armin Tröger, Hans T. Alborn, Wittko Francke, John F. Tooker, Mark C. Mescher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


It is increasingly clear that plants perceive and respond to olfactory cues. Yet, knowledge about the specificity and sensitivity of such perception remains limited. We previously documented priming of anti-herbivore defenses in tall goldenrod plants (Solidago altissima) by volatile emissions from a specialist herbivore, the goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis). Here, we explore the specific chemical cues mediating this interaction. We report that E,S-conophthorin, the most abundant component of the emission of male flies, elicits a priming response equivalent to that observed for the overall blend. Furthermore, while the strength of priming is dose dependent, plants respond even to very low concentrations of E,S-conophthorin relative to typical fly emissions. Evaluation of other blend components yields results consistent with the hypothesis that priming in this interaction is mediated by a single compound. These findings provide insights into the perceptual capabilities underlying plant defense priming in response to olfactory cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number337
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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