Many plants can defend themselves against insect herbivory by attracting natural enemies that kill feeding herbivores and limit the damage they inflict. Such "indirect defenses" can be induced by insects feeding on different plant tissues and using a variety of feeding styles. However, we have recently shown that gall-inducing insect species can avoid the indirect defenses of their host plant species and even alter volatile emissions following subsequent herbivory. One of the species we studied, Eurosta solidaginis, induces galls on goldenrod (Solidago altissima) and appears to exert a unique influence over the indirect defenses of its host plant that is not readily explained by levels of defense-related phytohormones, gall formation or resource depletion. Our evidence suggests that this gall-insect species may be able to manipulate its host plant species to avoid and/or modify its defensive responses. The results also provide insight into gall induction because the gall-insect species that we screened did not increase levels of jasmonic acid, which, in addition to triggering volatile emissions, is a powerful growth regulator that could prevent the cell growth and division that leads to gall formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science