Salicylic acid inhibits jasmonic acid-induced resistance of Arabidopsis thaliana to Spodoptera exigua

D. Cipollini, S. Enright, M. B. Traw, J. Bergelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of salicylic acid (SA) in plant responses to pathogens has been well documented, but its direct and indirect effects on plant responses to insects are not so well understood. We examined the effects of SA, alone and in combination with jasmonic acid (JA), on the performance of the generalist herbivore, Spodoptera exigua, in wild-type and mutant Arabidopsis thaliana genotypes that varied genetically in their ability to mount SA- and JA-mediated defence responses. In one experiment, growth of S. exigua larvae was highest on the Wassilewskija wild-type, intermediate on the Columbia wild-type and the JA-deficient fad mutant, and lowest on the nim1-1 and jar1-mutants, which are defective in the SA and JA pathways, respectively. Activity of guaiacol peroxidase, polyphenoloxidase, n-acetylglucosaminidase, and trypsin inhibitor varied by genotype but did not correlate with insect performance. SA treatment increased growth of S. exigua larvae by ∼35% over all genotypes, but had no discernable effect on activities of the four defence proteins. In a second experiment, growth of S. exigua was highest across treatments on the cep1 mutant, a constitutive expressor of high SA levels and systemic acquired resistance, and lowest on the fad mutant, which is JA-deficient. JA treatment generally increased activity of all four defence proteins, increased total glucosinolate levels and reduced insect growth by ∼25% over all genotypes. SA generally inhibited expression of JA-induced resistance to S. exigua when both hormones were applied simultaneously. Across genotypes and treatments, larval mass was negatively correlated with the activity of trypsin inhibitor and polyphenoloxidase and with total glucosinolate levels, and insect damage was negatively correlated with the activity of polyphenoloxidase. SA had little effect on the induction of defence protein activity by JA. However, SA attenuated the induction of glucosinolates by JA and therefore may explain better the interactive effects of SA and JA on insect performance. This study illustrates that direct and indirect cross-effects of SA on resistance to S. exigua can occur in A. thaliana. Effects of SA may be mediated through effects on plant defence chemistry or other aspects of the suitability of foliage for insect feeding and growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1643-1653
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2004


  • Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Cross-effects
  • Induced responses
  • Jasmonic acid
  • Salicylic acid
  • Spodoptera exigua

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics


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