L-DOPA functions as a plant pheromone for belowground anti-herbivory communication

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Birkett, M. A., Vuts, J., Dewhirst, S. Y., Cascone, P., Rasmann, S and Pickett, J. A. 2023. L-DOPA functions as a plant pheromone for belowground anti-herbivory communication. Ecology Letters. 26 (3), pp. 460-469. https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.14164

AuthorsBirkett, M. A., Vuts, J., Dewhirst, S. Y., Cascone, P., Rasmann, S and Pickett, J. A.
Abstract

While mechanisms of plant–plant communication for alerting neighbouring plants of an imminent insect herbivore attack have been described aboveground via the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), we are yet to decipher the specific components of plant–plant signalling belowground. Using bioassay-guided fractionation, we isolated and identified the non-protein amino acid l-DOPA, released from roots of Acyrtosiphon pisum aphid-infested Vicia faba plants, as an active compound in triggering the production of VOCs released aboveground in uninfested plants. In behavioural assays, we show that after contact with l-DOPA, healthy plants become highly attractive to the aphid parasitoid (Aphidius ervi), as if they were infested by aphids. We conclude that l-DOPA, originally described as a brain neurotransmitter precursor, can also enhance immunity in plants.

KeywordsPlant–plant signalling; VOC; Root exudates; Plant immunity; Parasitoids; Aphids
Year of Publication2023
JournalEcology Letters
Journal citation26 (3), pp. 460-469
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.14164
Open accessPublished as non-open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeElucidating the Chemical Ecology of Belowground Plant-Plant Communication [CHECK]
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online27 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted22 Dec 2022
PublisherWiley
ISSN1461-023X

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