Interactive responses of Solanum dulcamara to drought and insect feeding are herbivore species-specific.

Nguyen D, Poeschl Y, Lortzing T, et al. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2018;19(12):3845.

In nature, plants are frequently subjected to multiple biotic and abiotic stresses, resulting in a convergence of adaptive responses. We hypothesised that hormonal signalling regulating defences to different herbivores may interact with drought responses, causing distinct resistance phenotypes. To test this, we studied the hormonal and transcriptomic responses of Solanum dulcamara subjected to drought and herbivory by the generalist Spodoptera exigua (beet armyworm; BAW) or the specialist Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Colorado potato beetle; CPB). Bioassays showed that the performance of BAW, but not CPB, decreased on plants under drought compared to controls. While drought did not alter BAW-induced hormonal responses, it enhanced the CPB-induced accumulation of jasmonic acid and salicylic acid (SA), and suppressed ethylene (ET) emission. Microarray analyses showed that under drought, BAW herbivory enhanced several herbivore-induced responses, including cell-wall remodelling and the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, and secondary metabolites. In contrast, CPB herbivory enhanced several photosynthesis-related and pathogen responses in drought-stressed plants. This may divert resources away from defence production and increase leaf nutritive value. In conclusion, while BAW suffers from the drought-enhanced defences, CPB may benefit from the effects of enhanced SA and reduced ET signalling. This suggests that the fine-tuned interaction between the plant and its specialist herbivore is sustained under drought.