PYI: Integration of Physiological and Chemical Responses to Herbivory
Ian Baldwin Principal Investigator
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When the leaves of a plant are eaten by an herbivore, both defensive and physiological responses are observed in the remaining leaves. These responses contribute to a plant's resistance and resilience to herbivory, respectively. The metabolic integration of these responses has gone largely unexplored and will be examined in a species where leaf damage results in large (4-fold) increases in leaf alkaloids and large (2-fold) increases in the photosynthetic capacity. Specifically, the metabolic integration of the nitrogen-intensive responses to herbivory will be investigated using 15N and 14C-labeled alkaloid to follow the movement of nitrogen and carbon between root and shoot and between alkaloid and protein metabolism. The movement of nitrogen from alkaloid to leaf photosynthetic proteins will be correlated with changes in the photosynthetic capacity of leaves after damage. Examining chemical defenses as an integral part of the physiological processes by which plants regrow those tissues lost to herbivores, will strengthen our understanding of the evolution of chemical defenses in plants.