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Silicon supplementation and jasmonate activation synergistically increase phenolic defences against a legume herbivore

Ryalls, J. M. W. ORCID:, Gherlenda, A. N., Rowe, R. C., Moore, B. D. and Johnson, S. N. (2023) Silicon supplementation and jasmonate activation synergistically increase phenolic defences against a legume herbivore. Journal of Ecology, 111 (10). pp. 2208-2217. ISSN 1365-2745

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.14170


1. The accumulation of silicon (Si) is widely reported to have anti-herbivore defensive properties in grasses. There is emerging, but fragmentary, evidence that Si could play a similar role in legumes. 2. Here, we sought to understand the effects of Si supplementation on anti-herbivore defensive properties in lucerne (Medicago sativa), especially in relation to other potential defences (i.e. phenolics) and the phytohormone that regulates anti-herbivore defences, jasmonic acid or jasmonate (JA), which is also linked to Si accumulation. 3. We determined how growth, root nodulation and chemistry (carbon, nitrogen and phenolic concentrations) of four genotypes of lucerne responded to Si supplementation, with and without the application of JA, and we used feeding assays to determine the subsequent effects on the feeding success of adult Sitona discoideus weevils. 4. Si supplementation increased plant mass and root nodulation of M. sativa by 61% and 227%, respectively, and reduced relative consumption (RC) and frass production by S. discoideus by 38% and 30%, respectively. Si supplementation had no effect on foliar nitrogen concentrations, most likely due to the dilution effects of increased plant growth and foliar carbon. Phenolic concentrations were negatively correlated with leaf RC; RC also decreased by 34% when JA was applied to plants. When Si was combined with JA application, phenolics were significantly enhanced, demonstrating the potential to stimulate multiple anti-herbivore properties in M. sativa. Overall, the Si- and JA-induced phytochemical and herbivore feeding responses were consistent between the four lucerne genotypes tested. 5. Synthesis. The novel findings suggest that Si accumulation may play a more important role in legume resistance to herbivorous animals than previously thought. The ubiquity of soil Si and its emerging functional role in plant biology, including plant–animal interactions, suggest that these patterns could be common amongst legumes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:112471


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