The New phytologist

Jasmonate-dependent depletion of soluble sugars compromises plant resistance to Manduca sexta.

PMID 25704234


Jasmonates regulate plant secondary metabolism and herbivore resistance. How they influence primary metabolites and how this may affect herbivore growth and performance are not well understood. We profiled sugars and starch of jasmonate biosynthesis-deficient and jasmonate-insensitive Nicotiana attenuata plants and manipulated leaf carbohydrates through genetic engineering and inxa0vitro complementation to assess how jasmonate-dependent sugar accumulation affects the growth of Manduca sexta caterpillars. We found that jasmonates reduce the constitutive and herbivore-induced concentration of glucose and fructose in the leaves across different developmental stages. Diurnal, jasmonate-dependent inhibition of invertase activity was identified as a likely mechanism for this phenomenon. Contrary to our expectation, both inxa0planta and inxa0vitro approaches showed that the lower sugar concentrations led to increased M.xa0sexta growth. As a consequence, jasmonate-dependent depletion of sugars rendered N.xa0attenuata plants more susceptible to M.xa0sexta attack. In conclusion, jasmonates are important regulators of leaf carbohydrate accumulation and this determines herbivore growth. Jasmonate-dependent resistance is reduced rather than enhanced through the suppression of glucose and fructose concentrations, which may contribute to the evolution of divergent resistance strategies of plants in nature.