Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2018
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The unique ability of plants to harness solar energy and convert it into carbohydrate fuel, is the basic sustenance of higher trophic levels. Yet despite the multitude of organisms preying upon their resources, plants manage to keep bacterial, fungal, and insect consumers in check through sophisticated defense mechanisms encoded in their genomes. However, genetics only represents the molecular potential of an organism. To fully harness these defense mechanisms, we need to understand how this genetic potential is regulated and expressed. Environmental signals including atmospheric constituents such as carbon dioxide (CO2) or volatile organic compounds can alter both plant natural defense responses and the production of pathogen virulence factors, leading to changes in plant-pathogen interactions. We have found that elevated CO2 significantly compromises the defense response of corn and wheat against Fusarium mycotoxigenic fungal pathogens. However, a sesquiterpene volatile may be able to downregulate mycotoxin production and improve food safety. Understanding how such signals influence plant-fungal interactions will benefit the development of resilient and sustainable agricultural pest management strategies.