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1.  The Nicotiana attenuata GLA1 lipase controls the accumulation of Phytophthora parasitica-induced oxylipins and defensive secondary metabolites 
Plant, cell & environment  2014;37(7):1703-1715.
Nicotiana attenuata plants silenced in the expression of GLYCEROLIPASE A1 (ir-gla1 plants) are compromised in the herbivore- and wound-induced accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA). However, these plants accumulate wild-type (WT) levels of JA and divinyl-ethers (DVE) during Phytophthora parasitica infection (Bonaventure et al., 2011). By profiling oxylipin-enriched fractions with targeted and untargeted LC-QTOF approaches, we demonstrate that the accumulation of 9-hydroxy-10E,12Z-octadecadienoic acid (9-OH-18:2) and additional C18 and C19 oxylipins is reduced by ca. 20-fold in P. parasitica infected ir-gla1 leaves compared to WT. This reduced accumulation of oxylipins was accompanied by a reduced accumulation of unsaturated free fatty acids and specific lysolipid species. Untargeted metabolic profiling of total leaf extracts showed that 87 metabolites accumulated differentially in leaves of P. parasitica-infected ir-gla1 plants with glycerolipids, hydroxylated-diterpene glycosides and phenylpropanoid derivatives accounting together for ca. 20% of these 87 metabolites. Thus, P. parasitica-induced oxylipins may participate in the regulation of metabolic changes during infection. Together, the results demonstrate that GLA1 plays a distinct role in the production of oxylipins during biotic stress responses, supplying substrates for 9-OH-18:2 and additional C18 and C19 oxylipin formation during P. parasitica infection whereas supplying substrates for the biogenesis of JA during herbivory and mechanical wounding.
PMCID: PMC4190502  PMID: 24450863
Phytophthora; lipase; oxylipin; divinyl-ethers; jasmonic acid; infection; resistance; defense; metabolism; lipid
2.  A robust, simple, high-throughput technique for time-resolved plant volatile analysis in field experiments 
Plant volatiles (PVs) mediate interactions between plants and arthropods, microbes, and other plants, and are involved in responses to abiotic stress. PV emissions are therefore influenced by many environmental factors, including herbivore damage, microbial invasion, and cues from neighboring plants, but also light regime, temperature, humidity, and nutrient availability. Thus an understanding of the physiological and ecological functions of PVs must be grounded in measurements reflecting PV emissions under natural conditions. However, PVs are usually sampled in the artificial environments of laboratories or climate chambers. Sampling of PVs in natural environments is difficult, limited by the need to transport, maintain, and power instruments, or use expensive sorbent devices in replicate. Ideally, PVs should be measured in natural settings with high replication, spatiotemporal resolution, and sensitivity, and at modest costs. Polydimethysiloxane (PDMS), a sorbent commonly used for PV sampling, is available as silicone tubing (ST) for as little as 0.60 €/m (versus 100-550 € apiece for standard PDMS sorbent devices). Small (mm-cm) ST pieces (STs) can be placed in any environment and used for headspace sampling with little manipulation of the organism or headspace. STs have sufficiently fast absorption kinetics and large capacity to sample plant headspaces on a timescale of minutes to hours, and thus can produce biologically meaningful “snapshots” of PV blends. When combined with thermal desorption (TD)-GC-MS analysis – a 40-year-old and widely available technology – STs yield reproducible, sensitive, spatiotemporally resolved, quantitative data from headspace samples taken in natural environments.
PMCID: PMC4190661  PMID: 24684685
Polydimethylsiloxane; PDMS; ST; headspace analysis; plant volatiles; HIPVs; indirect defense; Nicotiana attenuata; Manduca sexta; field research
3.  Progressive 35S promoter methylation increases rapidly during vegetative development in transgenic Nicotiana attenuata plants 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:99.
Genetically modified plants are widely used in agriculture and increasingly in ecological research to enable the selective manipulation of plant traits in the field. Despite their broad usage, many aspects of unwanted transgene silencing throughout plant development are still poorly understood. A transgene can be epigenetically silenced by a process called RNA directed DNA methylation (RdDM), which can be seen as a heritable loss of gene expression. The spontaneous nature of transgene silencing has been widely reported, but patterns of acquirement remain still unclear.
Transgenic wild tobacco plants (Nicotiana attenuata) expressing heterologous genes coding for antimicrobial peptides displayed an erratic and variable occurrence of transgene silencing. We focused on three independently transformed lines (PNA 1.2, PNA 10.1 and ICE 4.4) as they rapidly lost the expression of the resistance marker and down-regulated transgene expression by more than 200 fold after only one plant generation. Bisulfite sequencing indicated hypermethylation within the 35S and NOS promoters of these lines. To shed light on the progress of methylation establishment, we successively sampled leaf tissues from different stages during plant development and found a rapid increase in 35S promoter methylation during vegetative growth (up to 77% absolute increase within 45 days of growth). The levels of de novo methylation were inherited by the offspring without any visible discontinuation. A secondary callus regeneration step could interfere with the establishment of gene silencing and we found successfully restored transgene expression in the offspring of several regenerants.
The unpredictability of the gene silencing process requires a thorough selection and early detection of unstable plant lines. De novo methylation of the transgenes was acquired solely during vegetative development and did not require a generational change for its establishment or enhancement. A secondary callus regeneration step provides a convenient way to rescue transgene expression without causing undesirable morphological effects, which is essential for experiments that use transformed plants in the analysis of ecologically important traits.
PMCID: PMC3716894  PMID: 23837904
4.  Correction: Feeding-induced rearrangement of green leaf volatiles reduces moth oviposition 
eLife  2013;2:e00992.
PMCID: PMC3679526  PMID: 23795304
Manduca sexta; plant volatiles; oviposition; Ca imaging; Datura wrightii; Other
5.  Feeding-induced rearrangement of green leaf volatiles reduces moth oviposition 
eLife  2013;2:e00421.
The ability to decrypt volatile plant signals is essential if herbivorous insects are to optimize their choice of host plants for their offspring. Green leaf volatiles (GLVs) constitute a widespread group of defensive plant volatiles that convey a herbivory-specific message via their isomeric composition: feeding of the tobacco hornworm Manduca sexta converts (Z)-3- to (E)-2-GLVs thereby attracting predatory insects. Here we show that this isomer-coded message is monitored by ovipositing M. sexta females. We detected the isomeric shift in the host plant Datura wrightii and performed functional imaging in the primary olfactory center of M. sexta females with GLV structural isomers. We identified two isomer-specific regions responding to either (Z)-3- or (E)-2-hexenyl acetate. Field experiments demonstrated that ovipositing Manduca moths preferred (Z)-3-perfumed D. wrightii over (E)-2-perfumed plants. These results show that (E)-2-GLVs and/or specific (Z)-3/(E)-2-ratios provide information regarding host plant attack by conspecifics that ovipositing hawkmoths use for host plant selection.
eLife digest
Plants have developed a variety of strategies to defend themselves against herbivorous animals, particularly insects. In addition to mechanical defences such as thorns and spines, plants also produce compounds known as secondary metabolites that keep insects and other herbivores at bay by acting as repellents or toxins. Some of these metabolites are produced on a continuous basis by plants, whereas others—notably compounds called green-leaf volatiles—are only produced once the plant has been attacked. Green-leaf volatiles—which are also responsible for the smell of freshly cut grass—have been observed to provide plants with both direct protection, by inhibiting or repelling herbivores, and indirect protection, by attracting predators of the herbivores themselves.
The hawkmoth Manduca sexta lays its eggs on various plants, including tobacco plants and sacred Datura plants. Once the eggs have hatched into caterpillars, they start eating the leaves of their host plant, and if present in large numbers, these caterpillars can quickly defoliate and destroy it. In an effort to defend itself, the host plant releases green-leaf volatiles to attract various species of Geocoris, and these bugs eat the eggs.
One of the green-leaf volatiles released by tobacco plants is known as (Z)-3-hexenal, but enzymes released by M. sexta caterpillars change some of these molecules into (E)-2-hexenal, which has the same chemical formula but a different structure. The resulting changes in the ‘volatile profile’ alerts Geocoris bugs to the presence of M. sexta eggs and caterpillars on the plant.
Now Allmann et al. show that adult female M. sexta moths can also detect similar changes in the volatile profile emitted by sacred Datura plants that have been damaged by M. sexta caterpillars. This alerts the moths to the fact that Geocoris bugs are likely to be attacking eggs and caterpillars on the plant, or on their way to the plant, so they lay their eggs on other plants. This reduces competition for resources and also reduces the risk of newly laid eggs being eaten by predators. Allmann et al. also identified the neural mechanism that allows moths to detect changes in the volatile profile of plants—the E- and Z- odours lead to different activation patterns in the moth brain.
PMCID: PMC3654435  PMID: 23682312
Manduca sexta; plant volatiles; oviposition; Ca imaging; Datura wrightii; Other
6.  Rapid modification of the insect elicitor N-linolenoyl-glutamate via a lipoxygenase-mediated mechanism on Nicotiana attenuata leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:164.
Some plants distinguish mechanical wounding from herbivore attack by recognizing specific constituents of larval oral secretions (OS) which are introduced into plant wounds during feeding. Fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) are major constituents of Manduca sexta OS and strong elicitors of herbivore-induced defense responses in Nicotiana attenuata plants.
The metabolism of one of the major FACs in M. sexta OS, N-linolenoyl-glutamic acid (18:3-Glu), was analyzed on N. attenuata wounded leaf surfaces. Between 50 to 70% of the 18:3-Glu in the OS or of synthetic 18:3-Glu were metabolized within 30 seconds of application to leaf wounds. This heat-labile process did not result in free α-linolenic acid (18:3) and glutamate but in the biogenesis of metabolites both more and less polar than 18:3-Glu. Identification of the major modified forms of this FAC showed that they corresponded to 13-hydroxy-18:3-Glu, 13-hydroperoxy-18:3-Glu and 13-oxo-13:2-Glu. The formation of these metabolites occurred on the wounded leaf surface and it was dependent on lipoxygenase (LOX) activity; plants silenced in the expression of NaLOX2 and NaLOX3 genes showed more than 50% reduced rates of 18:3-Glu conversion and accumulated smaller amounts of the oxygenated derivatives compared to wild-type plants. Similar to 18:3-Glu, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu activated the enhanced accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA) in N. attenuata leaves whereas 13-hydroxy-18:3-Glu did not. Moreover, compared to 18:3-Glu elicitation, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu induced the differential emission of two monoterpene volatiles (β-pinene and an unidentified monoterpene) in irlox2 plants.
The metabolism of one of the major elicitors of herbivore-specific responses in N. attenuata plants, 18:3-Glu, results in the formation of oxidized forms of this FAC by a LOX-dependent mechanism. One of these derivatives, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu, is an active elicitor of JA biosynthesis and differential monoterpene emission.
PMCID: PMC3095298  PMID: 20696061
7.  A rapid and sensitive method for the simultaneous analysis of aliphatic and polar molecules containing free carboxyl groups in plant extracts by LC-MS/MS 
Plant Methods  2009;5:17.
Aliphatic molecules containing free carboxyl groups are important intermediates in many metabolic and signalling reactions, however, they accumulate to low levels in tissues and are not efficiently ionized by electrospray ionization (ESI) compared to more polar substances. Quantification of aliphatic molecules becomes therefore difficult when small amounts of tissue are available for analysis. Traditional methods for analysis of these molecules require purification or enrichment steps, which are onerous when multiple samples need to be analyzed. In contrast to aliphatic molecules, more polar substances containing free carboxyl groups such as some phytohormones are efficiently ionized by ESI and suitable for analysis by LC-MS/MS. Thus, the development of a method with which aliphatic and polar molecules -which their unmodified forms differ dramatically in their efficiencies of ionization by ESI- can be simultaneously detected with similar sensitivities would substantially simplify the analysis of complex biological matrices.
A simple, rapid, specific and sensitive method for the simultaneous detection and quantification of free aliphatic molecules (e.g., free fatty acids (FFA)) and small polar molecules (e.g., jasmonic acid (JA), salicylic acid (SA)) containing free carboxyl groups by direct derivatization of leaf extracts with Picolinyl reagent followed by LC-MS/MS analysis is presented. The presence of the N atom in the esterified pyridine moiety allowed the efficient ionization of 25 compounds tested irrespective of their chemical structure. The method was validated by comparing the results obtained after analysis of Nicotiana attenuata leaf material with previously described analytical methods.
The method presented was used to detect 16 compounds in leaf extracts of N. attenuata plants. Importantly, the method can be adapted based on the specific analytes of interest with the only consideration that the molecules must contain at least one free carboxyl group.
PMCID: PMC2787500  PMID: 19939243

Results 1-7 (7)