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Does mycorrhization influence herbivore-induced volatile emission in Medicago truncatula

Leitner, Margit, Kaiser, Roland, Hause, Bettina, Boland, Wilhelm, Mithöfer, Axel
Mycorrhiza 2010 v.20 no.2 pp. 89-101
Glomus intraradices, Medicago truncatula, Spodoptera, cultivars, discriminant analysis, emissions, gas chromatography, genetic background, herbivores, insects, legumes, mass spectrometry, metabolism, mycorrhizae, mycorrhizal fungi, physiological state, symbionts
Symbiosis with mycorrhizal fungi substantially impacts secondary metabolism and defensive traits of colonised plants. In the present study, we investigated the influence of mycorrhization (Glomus intraradices) on inducible indirect defences against herbivores using the model legume Medicago truncatula. Volatile emission by mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants was measured in reaction to damage inflicted by Spodoptera spp. and compared to the basal levels of volatile emission by plants of two different cultivars. Emitted volatiles were recorded using closed-loop stripping and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. The documented volatile patterns were evaluated using multidimensional scaling to visualise patterns and stepwise linear discriminant analysis to distinguish volatile blends of plants with distinct physiological status and genetic background. Volatile blends emitted by different cultivars of M. truncatula prove to be clearly distinct, whereas mycorrhization only slightly influenced herbivore-induced volatile emissions. Still, the observed differences were sufficient to create classification rules to distinguish mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants by the volatiles emitted. Moreover, the effect of mycorrhization turned out to be opposed in the two cultivars examined. Root symbionts thus seem to alter indirect inducible defences of M. truncatula against insect herbivores. The impact of this effect strongly depends on the genetic background of the plant and, hence, in part explains the highly contradictory results on tripartite interactions gathered to date.