Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 42, Issue 10, pp 989–1003 | Cite as

Different Narrow-Band Light Ranges Alter Plant Secondary Metabolism and Plant Defense Response to Aphids

  • Ole Rechner
  • Susanne Neugart
  • Monika Schreiner
  • Sasa Wu
  • Hans-Michael Poehling


Light of different wavelengths affects various physiological processes in plants. Short-wavelength radiation (like UV) can activate defense pathways in plants and enhance the biosynthesis of secondary metabolites (such as flavonoids and glucosinolates) responsible for resistance against certain herbivorous insects. The intensity of light-induced, metabolite-based resistance is plant- and insect species-specific and depends on herbivore feeding guild and specialization. In this study, broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica) plants were grown for 4 weeks in a climate chamber under conventional fluorescent tubes and were additionally treated with UV-B (310 nm), UV-A (365 or 385 nm), or violet (420 nm) light generated with UV-B tubes or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The objective was to determine the influence of narrow bandwidths of light (from UV-B to violet) on plant secondary metabolism and on the performance of the cabbage aphid Brevicoryne brassicae (a specialist) and the green peach aphid Myzus persicae (a generalist). Among flavonol glycosides, specific quercetin and kaempferol glycosides increased markedly under UV-B, while among glucosinolates only 4-methoxy-3-indolylmethyl showed a 2-fold increase in plants exposed to UV-B and UV-A. The concentration of 3-indolylmethyl glucosinolate in broccoli plants increased with UV-B treatment. Brevicoryne brassicae adult weights and fecundity were lower on UV-B treated plants compared to UV-A or violet light-treated plants. Adult weights and fecundity of M. persicae were increased under UV-B and UV-A treatments. When specific light wavelengths are used to induce metabolic changes in plants, the specificity of the induced effects on herbivores should be considered.


Resistance Brevicoryne brassicae Myzus persicae UV Glucosinolates Flavonoids Brassica oleracea 



This research project was funded by the German Research Foundation DFG, grant Po 207/39-1.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Horticultural Production Systems – Section of PhytomedicineHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Department Plant QualityLeibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental CropsGrossbeerenGermany

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