Removing Plant Defenses

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Science's STKE  03 Aug 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 244, pp. tw281-TW281
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2442004TW281

In order to resist herbivore attack, plants use direct defenses, such as toxins and digestibility reducers, as well as indirect defenses that affect components of the plants' community (such as natural enemies and diseases). Plant defenses can be expressed constitutively or produced in response to an attacking pathogen or herbivore. Kessler et al. (see the Perspective by Dicke et al.) transformed the wild tobacco species Nicotiana attenuata, to silence three genes coding for enzymes in the jasmonate signaling pathway, which is known to be involved in induced plant defense. When planted in native habitats, the transformed plants were more vulnerable not only to their specialist herbivores but also to other herbivore species.

A. Kessler, R. Halitschke, I. T. Baldwin, Silencing the jasmonate cascade: Induced plant defenses and insect populations. Science 305, 665-668 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]

M. Dicke, J. J. A. van Loon, P. W. de Jong, Ecogenomics benefits community ecology. Science 305, 618-619 (2004). [Summary] [Full Text]

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