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Science 305 (5684): 665-668

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Silencing the Jasmonate Cascade: Induced Plant Defenses and Insect Populations

André Kessler, Rayko Halitschke, Ian T. Baldwin*

Abstract: We transformed the native tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata, to silence its lipoxygenase, hydroperoxide lyase, and allene oxide synthase genes in order to inhibit oxylipin signaling, known to mediate the plant's direct and indirect defenses. When planted into native habitats, lipoxygenase-deficient plants were more vulnerable to N. attenuata's adapted herbivores but also attracted novel herbivore species, which fed and reproduced successfully. In addition to highlighting the value of genetically silencing plants to study ecological interactions in nature, these results show that lipoxygenase-dependent signaling determines host selection for opportunistic herbivores and that induced defenses influence herbivore community composition.

Department of Molecular Ecology, Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Strasse 8, Jena 07745, Germany.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: baldwin{at}ice.mpg.de


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