Does fungal infection increase the palatability of oilseed rape to insects?

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BACKGROUND: Multiple and simultaneous attacks by pathogens and insect pests frequently occur in nature. Plants respond to biotic stresses by activating distinct defense mechanisms, but little is known about how plants cope with multiple stresses. The focus of this study was the combined interaction of fungal infection caused by Leptosphaeria maculans (synonym Plenodomus lingam) and arthropod infestation by the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) in oilseed rape (Brassica napus). We hypothesized that infection by the fungal pathogen L. maculans could alter oilseed rape palatability to P. xylostella-chewing caterpillars. Feeding preference tests were complemented with analyses of defense gene transcription, and levels of glucosinolates (GLSs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in L. maculans-inoculated and non-inoculated (control) leaves to determine possible causes of larval choice.
RESULTS: Caterpillars preferred true leaves to cotyledons, hence true leaves were used for further experiments. True leaves inoculated with L. maculans were more palatable to caterpillars over control leaves during the early stage of infection at 3 days post inoculation (dpi), but this preference disappeared in the later stages of infection at 7 dpi. In parallel, genes involved in the salicylic acid and ethylene pathways were up-regulated in L. maculans-inoculated leaves at 3 and 7 dpi; L. maculans increased the level of total aliphatic GLSs, specifically glucobrassicanapin, and decreased the level of glucoiberin at 3 dpi and altered the content of specific VOCs. A group of 55 VOCs with the highest variability between treatments was identified.
CONCLUSION: We suggest that the P. xylostella preference for L. maculans-inoculated leaves in the early stage of disease development could be caused by the underlying mechanisms leading to changes in metabolic composition. Further research should pinpoint the compounds responsible for driving larval preference and evaluate whether the behavior of the adult moths, i.e. the stage that makes the first choice regarding host plant selection in field conditions, correlates with our results on larval host acceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberPS7998
JournalPest Management Science
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)2480-2494
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Special Issue: Integrated Pest Control in Oilseed Crops

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Brassica napus, defense genes, glucosinolates, Leptosphaeria maculans, rapeseed, Plenodomus lingam, Plutella xylostella, tripartite interaction, volatiles

ID: 384294978