Herbivory of wild Manduca sexta causes fast down-regulation of photosynthetic efficiency in Datura wrightii: An early signaling cascade visualized by chlorophyll fluorescence

Greg A. Barron-Gafford, Uwe Rascher, Judith L. Bronstein, Goggy Davidowitz, Brian Chaszar, Travis E. Huxman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Plants experiencing herbivory suffer indirect costs beyond direct loss of leaf area, but differentially so based on the herbivore involved. We used a combination of chlorophyll fluorescence imaging and gas exchange techniques to quantify photosynthetic performance, the efficiency of photochemistry, and heat dissipation to examine immediate and longer-term physiological responses in the desert perennial Datura wrightii to herbivory by tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta. Herbivory by colony-reared larvae yielded no significant reduction in carbon assimilation, whereas herbivory by wild larvae induced a fast and spreading down-regulation of photosynthetic efficiency, resulting in significant losses in carbon assimilation in eaten and uneaten leaves. We found both an 89 % reduction in net photosynthetic rates in herbivore-damaged leaves and a whole-plant response (79 % decrease in undamaged leaves from adjacent branches). Consequently, herbivory costs are higher than previously estimated in this well-studied plant-insect interaction. We used chlorophyll fluorescence imaging to elucidate the mechanisms of this down-regulation. Quantum yield decreased up to 70 % in a small concentric band surrounding the feeding area within minutes of the onset of herbivory. Non-photochemical energy dissipation by the plant to avoid permanent damage was elevated near the wound, and increased systematically in distant areas of the leaf away from the wound over subsequent hours. Together, the results underscore not only potential differences between colony-reared and wild-caught herbivores in experimental studies of herbivory but also the benefits of quantifying physiological responses of plants in unattacked leaves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-260
Number of pages12
JournalPhotosynthesis Research
Volume113
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

Keywords

  • Antagonism
  • Datura wrightii
  • Down regulation
  • Herbivory
  • Manduca sexta
  • Mutualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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