Herbivore-Specific Transcriptional Responses and Their Research Potential for Ecosystem Studies

  • C. Voelckel
  • I. T. Baldwin
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 173)


While simulations of herbivory with mechanical clipping provide many experimental advantages over true herbivory for ecological research, faithful mimicking can be onerous. Not only do herbivores differ in how and what they remove from a plant, but also they differ in saliva and regurgitate composition, microbial commensalists, pathogen vectoring, feeding phenology and tritrophic interactions, all of which can dramatically alter a plant’s response. These differences in response emerge from alterations in primary and secondary metabolism that are activated by specific signalling pathways and signal recognition systems. Frequently, these responses are under transcriptional control and affect genes involved in hormone biosynthesis and perception, volatile organic compound and secondary metabolite synthesis, photosynthesis and transcriptional and translational processes, in other words, in metabolism sensu lato.We review studies that have identified herbivore-specific transcriptional responses, introduce the molecular techniques used to measure these changes, and argue that research into molecular mechanisms provides ecologists with tools to monitor and manipulate the subtle effects that insects have on ecosystem function.


Northern Blot Analysis Lima Bean European Corn Borer Insect Attack Transgenic Potato Plant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Voelckel
  • I. T. Baldwin

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