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Phosphate Deficiency Induces the Jasmonate Pathway and Enhances Resistance to Insect Herbivory.
During their life cycle, plants are typically confronted by simultaneous biotic and abiotic stresses. Low inorganic phosphate (Pi) is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies limiting plant growth in natural and agricultural ecosystems, while insect herbivory accounts for major losses in plant productivity and impacts ecological and evolutionary changes in plant populations. Here, we report that plants experiencing Pi deficiency induce the jasmonic acid (JA) pathway and enhance their defense against insect herbivory. Pi-deficient Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) showed enhanced synthesis of JA and the bioactive conjugate JA-isoleucine, as well as activation of the JA signaling pathway, in both shoots and roots of wild-type plants and in shoots of the Pi-deficient mutant pho1 The kinetics of the induction of the JA signaling pathway by Pi deficiency was influenced by PHOSPHATE STARVATION RESPONSE1, the main transcription factor regulating the expression of Pi starvation-induced genes. Phenotypes of the pho1 mutant typically associated with Pi deficiency, such as high shoot anthocyanin levels and poor shoot growth, were significantly attenuated by blocking the JA biosynthesis or signaling pathway. Wounded pho1 leaves hyperaccumulated JA/JA-isoleucine in comparison with the wild type. The pho1 mutant also showed an increased resistance against the generalist herbivore Spodoptera littoralis that was attenuated in JA biosynthesis and signaling mutants. Pi deficiency also triggered increased resistance to S. littoralis in wild-type Arabidopsis as well as tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and Nicotiana benthamiana, revealing that the link between Pi deficiency and enhanced herbivory resistance is conserved in a diversity of plants, including crops.
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