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Iridoid glycosides are a group of terpenoid secondary plant compounds known to deter generalist insect herbivores. In ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata), the iridoid glycosides aucubin and catalpol can be induced following damage by insect herbivores. In this study, we investigated whether the same compounds can be induced following infection by the fungal pathogen Diaporthe adunca, the causal agent of a stalk disease in P. lanceolata. Significant induction of aucubin and catalpol was observed in two of the three plant genotypes used in this study following inoculation with the pathogen. In one of the genotypes, induction occurred within 6 hr after inoculation, and no decay was observed within 8 days. The highest level of induction was observed in reproductive tissues (spikes and stalks) where infection took place. In these tissues, iridoid glycoside levels in infected plants were, on average, 97% and 37% higher than the constitutive levels in the corresponding control plants, respectively. Significant induction was also observed in leaves (24%) and roots (17%). In addition to significant genotypic variation in the level of induction, we found genetic variation for the tissue-specific pattern of induction, further broadening the scope for evolutionary fine-tuning of induced responses. Recent studies have revealed a negative association between iridoid glycoside levels in P. lanceolata genotypes and the amount of growth and reproduction of D. adunca that these genotypes support. However, for the three genotypes used in the present study, differences in resistance were not related to their constitutive or induced levels of iridoid glycosides, suggesting that additional resistance mechanisms are important in this host-pathogen system. We conclude that iridoid glycosides in P. lanceolata can be induced both by arthropods and pathogenic micro-organisms. Pathogen infection could, therefore, potentially enhance resistance to generalist insect herbivores in this species. [KEYWORDS: Constitutive chemical defense, induced chemical defense, Diaporthe adunca, genetic variation, Plantago lanceolata, plant–pathogen interactions, plant–herbivore interactions]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2429-2448
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2002

ID: 197096