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Title: Plant elicitor peptides are conserved signals regulating direct and indirect anti-herbivore defense

item Huffaker, Alisa
item PEARCE, GREGORY - Northeast Forestry University
item VEYRAT, NATHALIE - University Of Neuchatel
item ERB, MATTHIAS - Max Planck Society
item TURLINGS, TED - University Of Neuchatel
item SARTOR, RYAN - University Of California
item SHEN, ZHOUXIN - University Of California
item BRIGGS, STEVEN - University Of California
item Vaughan, Martha
item Alborn, Hans
item Teal, Peter
item Schmelz, Eric

Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/27/2013
Publication Date: 4/1/2013
Citation: Huffaker, A., Pearce, G., Veyrat, N., Erb, M., Turlings, T.C., Sartor, R., Shen, Z., Briggs, S.P., Vaughan, M.M., Alborn, H.T., Teal, P.E., Schmelz, E.A. 2013. Plant elicitor peptides are conserved signals regulating direct and indirect anti-herbivore defense. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 110(14):5707-5712.

Interpretive Summary: Upon attack by insects and pathogens, plants respond with rapid biochemical defenses that reduce further damage and yield losses. Targeted improvements in crop resistance require an understanding of molecular mechanisms regulating these induced defenses. Maize plants battle insect herbivores such as caterpillar larvae by emitting a blend of volatile chemicals that attract natural enemy parasitoids and predators. Although insect elicitors have been identified that trigger plant perception of insect attack and subsequent volatile emission, the intermediary signaling mechanisms regulating this response aren’t well understood. Scientists at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, FL, and collaborators have discovered a 23 amino acid maize peptide, termed ZmPep3, which elicits maize anti-herbivore

Technical Abstract: Insect-induced defenses occur in nearly all plants and are regulated by conserved signaling pathways. As the first described plant peptide signal, systemin regulates anti-herbivore defenses in the Solanaceae, but in other plant families peptides with analogous activity have remained elusive. In the current study we demonstrate that a member of the maize Plant Elicitor Peptide family, ZmPep3, regulates responses against herbivores. Consistent with a signal, expression of the ZmPROPEP3 precursor gene is rapidly induced by Spodoptera exigua oral secretions. At concentrations starting at 5 pMol per leaf, ZmPep3 stimulates production of jasmonic acid, ethylene and increased expression of genes encoding proteins associated with herbivory defense. These include proteinase inhibitors and biosynthetic enzymes for production of volatile terpenes and benzoxazinoids. In accordance with gene expression data, plants treated with ZmPep3 emit volatiles similar to those from plants subjected to herbivory. ZmPep3-treated plants also exhibit induced accumulation of the benzoxazinoid phytoalexin 2-hydroxy-4,7-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one glucoside (HDMBOA-Glc). Direct and indirect defenses induced by ZmPep3 contribute to resistance against S. exigua through significant reduction of larval growth and attraction of Cotesia marginiventris parasitoids. ZmPep3 activity is specific to Poaceous species; however, peptides derived from PROPEP orthologs identified in Solanaceous and Fabaceous plants also induce herbivory-associated volatiles in their respective species. These studies demonstrate that Peps are conserved signals across diverse plant families regulating anti-herbivore defenses and are likely to be the missing functional homologs of systemin outside of the Solanaceae.