When challenged by herbivorous insects, plants produce a suite of antinutritive proteins that disrupt digestion and absorption of essential nutrients by the insects. We hypothesized that plants would induce distinct defense responses corresponding to the distinct midgut conditions of different herbivores. We investigated whether or not tomato responds specifically to two specialist herbivores: Colorado potato beetle (CPB; Leptinotarsa decemlineata; Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) and tobacco hornworm (THW; Manduca sexta; Lepidoptera: Sphingidae), and we evaluated whether the induced defenses triggered by either species affect CPB growth. Tomato did not induce different defense genes in response to CPB or THW but accumulated more transcripts for some defense genes after damage by THW feeding compared to damage by CPB feeding. In addition, trypsin protease inhibitor activity and polyphenol oxidase activity were higher in plants damaged by THW than in plants damaged by CPB. Application of oral secretions from THW to wounded tomato plants increased transcripts compared to controls, but oral secretions from CPB decreased defense transcripts. CPB growth was compromised on plants damaged by either species, suggesting a low specificity of effect. Together, these data suggest distinct quantitative responses of tomato to two different specialist herbivores. Herbivore oral secretions might be responsible for these species-specific responses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics