Exogenous jasmonates simulate insect wounding in tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum) in the laboratory and field

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Wounding increases the levels and activities of several defense-related proteins in the foliage of the tomato plant. Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. Evidence indicates that two of these responses, the systemic increases in polyphenol oxidase and proteinase inhibitors, are regulated by an octadecanoid-based signalling pathway which includes the wound hormone, jasmonic acid. It is not known whether other responses to wounding are also regulated by this same signalling pathway. In this paper, we show that application of jasmonates (jasmonic acid or its volatile derivative, methyl jasmonate) in low concentrations to foliage of young tomato plants induced, in a dose-dependent manner, the same protein responses-polyphenol oxidase, proteinase inhibitors, lipoxygenase, and peroxidase-as does Helicoverpa zea Boddie feeding. Application of jasmonic acid to a single leaflet of four- leaf tomato plants induced these four proteins in a spatial pattern nearly identical to that produced by localized feeding of H. zea. Exogenous jasmonic acid also decreased suitability of foliage for the beet armyworm. Spodoptera exigua Hubner in the laboratory. Based on these results, we conducted an experiment to measure the effects of jasmonic acid spray under field conditions. We provide the first evidence that jasmonic acid spray on field plants induces production of chemical defenses above the levels found in unsprayed controls. Exogenous jasmonic acid sprayed on plants in agricultural plots increased levels of polyphenol oxidase and proteinase inhibitors. Because application of jasmonic acid induces these defensive compounds at low concentrations in a manner similar to natural wounding, it may prove to be a useful tool for stimulating plant resistance to insects in the field.

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Journal of Chemical Ecology

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