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L-DOPA functions as a plant pheromone for belowground anti-herbivory communication

Cascone, Pasquale, Vuts, Jozsef, Birkett, Michael A., Dewhirst, Sarah, Rasmann, Sergio, Pickett, John A. ORCID: and Guerrieri, Emilio 2023. L-DOPA functions as a plant pheromone for belowground anti-herbivory communication. Ecology Letters 26 (3) , pp. 460-469. 10.1111/ele.14164
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While mechanisms of plant–plant communication for alerting neighbouring plants of an imminent insect herbivore attack have been described aboveground via the production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), we are yet to decipher the specific components of plant–plant signalling belowground. Using bioassay-guided fractionation, we isolated and identified the non-protein amino acid l-DOPA, released from roots of Acyrtosiphon pisum aphid-infested Vicia faba plants, as an active compound in triggering the production of VOCs released aboveground in uninfested plants. In behavioural assays, we show that after contact with l-DOPA, healthy plants become highly attractive to the aphid parasitoid (Aphidius ervi), as if they were infested by aphids. We conclude that l-DOPA, originally described as a brain neurotransmitter precursor, can also enhance immunity in plants.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 1461-023X
Funders: BBSRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 March 2023
Date of Acceptance: 22 December 2022
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2023 08:31

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