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Phytohormones and plant-herbivore-pathogen interactions: integrating the molecular with the ecological

Hatcher, P. E., Moore, J., Taylor, J. E., Tinney, G. W. and Paul, N. D. (2004) Phytohormones and plant-herbivore-pathogen interactions: integrating the molecular with the ecological. Ecology, 85 (1). pp. 59-69. ISSN 0012-9658

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1890/02-0724


Current research into indirect phytopathogen–herbivore interactions (i.e., interactions mediated by the host plant) is carried out in two largely independent directions: ecological/mechanistic and molecular. We investigate the origin of these approaches and their strengths and weaknesses. Ecological studies have determined the effect of herbivores and phytopathogens on their host plants and are often correlative: the need for long-term manipulative experiments is pressing. Molecular/cellular studies have concentrated on the role of signaling pathways for systemic induced resistance, mainly involving salicylic acid and jasmonic acid, and more recently the cross-talk between these pathways. This cross-talk demonstrates how interactions between signaling mechanisms and phytohormones could mediate plant–herbivore–pathogen interactions. A bridge between these approaches may be provided by field studies using chemical induction of defense, or investigating whole-organism mechanisms of interactions among the three species. To determine the role of phytohormones in induced resistance in the field, researchers must combine ecological and molecular methods. We discuss how these methods can be integrated and present the concept of “kaleidoscopic defense.” Our recent molecular-level investigations of interactions between the herbivore Gastrophysa viridula and the rust fungus Uromyces rumicis on Rumex obtusifolius, which were well studied at the mechanistic and ecological levels, illustrate the difficulty in combining these different approaches. We suggest that the choice of the right study system (possibly wild relatives of model species) is important, and that molecular studies must consider the environmental conditions under which experiments are performed. The generalization of molecular predictions to ecologically realistic settings will be facilitated by “middle-ground studies” concentrating on the outcomes of the interactions.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:10511
Uncontrolled Keywords:herbivores, insects, jasmonic acid, molecular ecology, plant pathogens, Rumex obtusifolius, salicylic acid, systemic induced resistance

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