• C. Voelckel
  • T. Krugel
  • K. Gase
  • N. Heidrich
  • N.M. Van Dam
  • R. Winz
  • I.T. Baldwin
Several lines of evidence support the defensive function of nicotine production in the Nicotiana genus against a range of herbivores, but the evidence is largely correlative. To suppress nicotine production in planta and to test its defensive function, we expressed DNA of putrescine N-methyl transferase in an antisense orientation (AS-PMT) in N. sylvestris and fed leaf material from two lines of transformed and wild type plants to Manduca sexta larvae. Larvae consumed more leaf area and gained more mass on the foliage of plants with low PMT expression and low nicotine levels as compared to plants with high PMT expression and high nicotine levels and wild type plants. Overall, larval consumption and performance were negatively correlated with constitutive nicotine levels. We conclude that nicotine decreases the palatability of N. sylvestris leaves to the nicotine-resistant M. sexta larvae. [KEYWORDS: nicotine; defense; anti-sense expression; putrescine N-methyltransferase; Nicotiana sylvestris; Manduca sexta Allocation; herbivore; growth]
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2001

ID: 360383