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Specificity in Ecological Interactions. Attack from the Same Lepidopteran Herbivore Results in Species-Specific Transcriptional Responses in Two Solanaceous Host Plants

Schmidt, Dominik D., Voelckel, Claudia, Hartl, Markus, Schmidt, Silvia, Baldwin, Ian T.
Plant physiology 2005 v.138 no.3 pp. 1763-1773
Solanum tuberosum, potatoes, Nicotiana tabacum, tobacco, Solanum nigrum, Solanaceae, plant response, NADH dehydrogenase, plant proteins, proteolysis, leucyl aminopeptidase, protein disulfide-isomerase, secondary metabolites, DNA-binding proteins, gene expression regulation, transcription (genetics), phylogeny, signal transduction, microarray technology, Manduca sexta, phytophagous insects, plant-insect relations, polymerase chain reaction
Model systems have proven enormously useful in elucidating the biochemical function of plant genes. However their ecological function, having been sculpted by evolutionary forces specific to a species, may be less conserved across taxa. Responses to wounding and herbivore attack differ among plant families and are known to be mediated by oxylipin, ethylene, and systemin-signaling networks. We analyzed transcriptional responses of two native Solanaceous species to the attack of an herbivore whose elicitors are known not to be influenced by diet. With The Institute for Genomic Research 10k-cDNA potato (Solanum tuberosum) microarray, we compared the transcriptional responses of Nicotiana attenuata with those of black nightshade (Solanum nigrum) when both were attacked by the Solanaceous generalist herbivore, Manduca sexta. Based on an NADH dehydrogenase subunit F phylogeny, S. nigrum is more closely related to potato than N. attenuata but responded significantly less to M. sexta attack. Apart from transcriptional differences anticipated from their differences in secondary metabolism, both species showed distinct transcriptional patterns (with only 10% overlap in significantly regulated genes), which point to fundamental differences in the signaling cascades and downstream genes mediating herbivore resistance. The lackluster transcriptional response of S. nigrum could not be attributed to its inability to respond to elicitation, because methyl jasmonate elicitation of S. nigrum resulted in a strong transcriptional response. Given that attack from the same herbivore elicits profoundly different responses in two Solanaceaous taxa, we conclude that blueprints for commonly regulated responses to plant-herbivore interactions appear unlikely.