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Mielke, S.; Gasperini, D. Plant–Insect Bioassay for Testing Arabidopsis Resistance to the Generalist Herbivore Spodoptera littoralis (Champion, A. & Laplaze, L., eds.). Methods Mol Biol 2085, 69-78, (2020) ISBN: 978-1-0716-0142-6 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-0142-6_5

Jasmonates are essential engineers of plant defense responses against many pests, including herbivorous insects. Herbivory induces the production of jasmonic acid (JA) and its bioactive conjugate jasmonoyl-l-isoleucine (JA-Ile), which then triggers a large transcriptional reprogramming to promote plant acclimation. The contribution of the JA pathway, including its components and regulators, to defense responses against insect herbivory can be evaluated by conducting bioassays with a wide range of host plants and insect pests. Here, we describe a detailed and reproducible protocol for testing feeding behavior of the generalist herbivore Spodoptera littoralis on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and hence infer the contribution of JA-mediated plant defense responses to a chewing insect.

Kowalski, A. M.; Gooding, M.; Ferrante, A.; Slafer, G. A.; Orford, S.; Gasperini, D.; Griffiths, S. Agronomic assessment of the wheat semi-dwarfing gene Rht8 in contrasting nitrogen treatments and water regimes Field Crops Res 191, 150-160, (2016) DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2016.02.026

Reduced height 8 (Rht8) is the main alternative to the GA-insensitive Rht alleles in hot and dry environments where it reduces plant height without yield penalty. The potential of Rht8 in northern-European wheat breeding remains unclear, since the close linkage with the photoperiod-insensitive allele Ppd-D1a is unfavourable in the relatively cool summers. In the present study, two near-isogenic lines (NILs) contrasting for the Rht8/tall allele from Mara in a UK-adapted and photoperiod-sensitive wheat variety were evaluated in trials with varying nitrogen fertiliser (N) treatments and water regimes across sites in the UK and Spain.The Rht8 introgression was associated with a robust height reduction of 11% regardless of N treatment and water regime and the Rht8 NIL was more resistant to root-lodging at agronomically-relevant N levels than the tall NIL. In the UK with reduced solar radiation over the growing season than the site in Spain, the Rht8 NIL showed a 10% yield penalty at standard agronomic N levels due to concomitant reduction in grain number and spike number whereas grain weight and harvest index were not significantly different to the tall NIL. The yield penalty associated with the Rht8 introgression was overcome at low N and in irrigated conditions in the UK, and in the high-temperature site in Spain. Decreased spike length and constant spikelet number in the Rht8 NIL resulted in spike compaction of 15%, independent of N and water regime. The genetic interval of Rht8 overlaps with the compactum gene on 2DS, raising the possibility of the same causative gene. Further genetic dissection of these loci is required.

Gasperini, D.; Acosta, I. F.; Farmer, E. E. Cotyledon Wounding of Arabidopsis Seedlings Bio Protoc 6, e1712, (2016) DOI: 10.21769/BioProtoc.1712

Damage to plant organs through both biotic and abiotic injury is very common in nature. Arabidopsis thaliana 5-day-old (5-do) seedlings represent an excellent system in which to study plant responses to mechanical wounding, both at the site of the damage and in distal unharmed tissues. Seedlings of wild type, transgenic or mutant lines subjected to single or repetitive cotyledon wounding can be used to quantify morphological alterations (e.g., root length, Gasperini et al., 2015), analyze the dynamics of reporter genes in vivo (Larrieu et al., 2015; Gasperini et al., 2015), follow transcriptional changes by quantitative RT-PCR (Acosta et al., 2013; Gasperini et al., 2015) or examine additional aspects of the wound response with a plethora of downstream procedures. Here we illustrate how to rapidly and reliably wound cotyledons of young seedlings, and show the behavior of two promoters driving the expression of β-glucuronidase (GUS) in entire seedlings and in the primary root meristem, following single or repetitive cotyledon wounding respectively. We describe two procedures that can be easily adapted to specific experimental needs.

Farmer, E. E.; Gasperini, D.; Acosta, I. F. The squeeze cell hypothesis for the activation of jasmonate synthesis in response to wounding New Phytol 204, 282-288, (2014) DOI: 10.1111/nph.12897

Jasmonates are lipid mediators that control defence gene expression in response to wounding and other environmental stresses. These small molecules can accumulate at distances up to several cm from sites of damage and this is likely to involve cell‐to‐cell jasmonate transport. Also, and independently of jasmonate synthesis, transport and perception, different long‐distance wound signals that stimulate distal jasmonate synthesis are propagated at apparent speeds of several cm min–1 to tissues distal to wounds in a mechanism that involves clade 3 GLUTAMATE RECEPTOR‐LIKE (GLR) genes. A search for jasmonate synthesis enzymes that might decode these signals revealed LOX6, a lipoxygenase that is necessary for much of the rapid accumulation of jasmonic acid at sites distal to wounds. Intriguingly, the LOX6 promoter is expressed in a distinct niche of cells that are adjacent to mature xylem vessels, a location that would make these contact cells sensitive to the release of xylem water column tension upon wounding. We propose a model in which rapid axial changes in xylem hydrostatic pressure caused by wounding travel through the vasculature and lead to slower, radially dispersed pressure changes that act in a clade 3 GLR‐dependent mechanism to promote distal jasmonate synthesis.
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