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Data from: Generalist insects behave in a jasmonate-dependent manner on their host plants, leaving induced areas quickly and staying longer on distant parts

Citation

Perkins, Lynda E. et al. (2013), Data from: Generalist insects behave in a jasmonate-dependent manner on their host plants, leaving induced areas quickly and staying longer on distant parts, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.cf87p

Abstract

Plants are sessile so have evolved sensitive ways to detect attacking herbivores, and sophisticated strategies to effectively defend themselves. Insect herbivory induces synthesis of the phytohormone jasmonic acid which activates downstream metabolic pathways for various chemical defences such as toxins and digestion inhibitors. Insects are also sophisticated animals, and many have co-evolved physiological adaptations that negate this induced plant defence. Insect behaviour has rarely been studied in the context of induced plant defence, although behavioural adaptation to induced plant chemistry may allow insects to bypass the host’s defence system. By visualizing jasmonate-responsive gene expression within whole plants, we uncovered spatial and temporal limits to the systemic spread of plant chemical defence following herbivory. By carefully tracking insect movement, we found induced changes in plant chemistry were detected by generalist Helicoverpa armigera insects which then modified their behaviour in response, moving away from induced parts and staying longer on un-induced parts of the same plant. This study reveals there are plant-wide signals rapidly generated following herbivory that allow insects to detect the heterogeneity of plant chemical defences. Some insects use these signals to move around the plant, avoiding localised sites of induction and staying ahead of induced toxic metabolites.

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