Induced Plant Defenses Against Herbivory in Cultivated and Wild Tomato

Sulav Paudel, Po An Lin, Majid R. Foolad, Jared G. Ali, Edwin G. Rajotte, Gary W. Felton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Crop domestication and selective breeding have altered plant defense mechanisms, influencing insect-plant interactions. A reduction in plant resistance/tolerance against herbivory is generally expected in domesticated species, however, limited efforts have been made to compare inducibility of plant defenses between wild and domesticated genotypes. In the present study, the inducibility of several plant defense mechanisms (e.g. defensive chemicals, trichomes, plant volatiles) were investigated, and the performance and preference of the herbivore Helicoverpa zea were measured in three different tomato genotypes; a) wild tomato, Solanum pimpinellifolium L. (accession LA 2093), b) cherry tomato, S. lycopersicum L. var. cerasiforme (accession Matts Wild Cherry), and c) cultivated tomato, S. lycopersicum L. var. Better Boy). Enhanced inducibility of defensive chemicals, trichomes, and plant volatiles in the cultivated tomato, and a higher level of constitutive plant resistance against herbivory in the wild genotype was observed. When comparing the responses of damaged vs. undamaged leaves, the percent reduction in larval growth was higher on damaged leaves from cultivated tomato, suggesting a higher induced resistance compared to other two genotypes. While all tomato genotypes exhibited increased volatile organic compound (VOCs) emissions in response to herbivory, the cultivated variety responded with generally higher levels of VOCs. Differences in VOC patterns may have influenced the ovipositional preferences, as H. zea female moths significantly preferred laying eggs on the cultivated versus the wild tomato genotypes. Selection of traits during domestication and selective breeding could alter allocation of resources, where plants selected for higher yield performance would allocate resources to defense only when attacked.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-707
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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