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Herbivore Cues from the Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) Larvae Trigger Direct Defenses in Maize

May 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  5
Pages  461 - 470

Wen-Po Chuang,1 Swayamjit Ray,2 Flor Edith Acevedo,3 Michelle Peiffer,3 Gary W. Felton,3 and Dawn S. Luthe2

1Department of Entomology, Kansas State University, Manhattan 66506, U.S.A.; 2Department of Entomology and 3Department of Plant Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, U.S.A.

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Accepted 3 December 2013.

In addition to feeding damage, herbivores release cues that are recognized by plants to elicit defenses. Caterpillar oral secretions have been shown to trigger herbivore defense responses in several different plant species. In this study, the effects of two fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) oral secretions (saliva and regurgitant) on caterpillar defense responses in maize (Zea mays) were examined. Only minute amounts of regurgitant were deposited on the maize leaf during larval feeding bouts and its application to leaves failed to induce the expression of several herbivore defense genes. On the other hand, caterpillars consistently deposited saliva on leaves during feeding and the expression of several maize defense genes significantly increased in response to saliva application and larval feeding. However, feeding by ablated caterpillars with impaired salivation did not induce these defenses. Furthermore, bioassays indicated that feeding by unablated caterpillars significantly enhanced defenses when compared with that of ablated caterpillars. Another critical finding was that the maize genotype and stage of development affected the expression of defense genes in response to wounding and regurgitant treatments. These results demonstrate that fall armyworm saliva contains elicitors that trigger herbivore defenses in maize.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society