Herbivore induction of jasmonic acid and chemical defences reduce photosynthesis in Nicotiana attenuata
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AbstractHerbivory initiates a shift in plant metabolism from growth to defence that may reduce fitness in the absence of further herbivory. However, the defence-induced changes in carbon assimilation that precede this reallocation in resources remain largely undetermined. This study characterized the response of photosynthesis to herbivore induction of jasmonic acid (JA)-related defences in Nicotiana attenuata to increase understanding of these mechanisms. It was hypothesized that JA-induced defences would immediately reduce the component processes of photosynthesis upon attack and was predicted that wild-type plants would suffer greater reductions in photosynthesis than plants lacking JA-induced defences. Gas exchange, chlorophyll fluorescence, and thermal spatial patterns were measured together with the production of defence-related metabolites after attack and through recovery. Herbivore damage immediately reduced electron transport and gas exchange in wild-type plants, and gas exchange remained suppressed for several days after attack. The sustained reductions in gas exchange occurred concurrently with increased defence metabolites in wild-type plants, whereas plants lacking JA-induced defences suffered minimal suppression in photosynthesis and no increase in defence metabolite production. This suppression in photosynthesis occurred only after sustained defence signalling and defence chemical mobilization, whereas a short bout of feeding damage only transiently altered components of photosynthesis. It was identified that lipoxygenase signalling interacted with photosynthetic electron transport and that the resulting JA-related metabolites reduced photosynthesis. These data represent a metabolic cost to mounting a chemical defence against herbivory and link defence-signalling networks to the differential effects of herbivory on photosynthesis in remaining leaf tissues in a time-dependent manner.