Plenary Symposium: New Directions in Molecular and Organismal Botany
Kessler, Andre .
The arena of plant-insect interactions.
IN the past decades we have experienced an intense development of organismic biology and genomics of individual species on one hand and population biology and evolutionary ecology on the other hand. Currently we are entering the era of modern consolidation in biology through integrative research approaches that may reveal the mechanisms of evolution and adaptation. The study of plant-insect interactions is exemplary among the integrative research fields and succeeds by unifying the research efforts on the cellular and organismal level with those on the whole plant and community level.
One major integrative field of interest became the plants' induced metabolic responses to herbivore damage, which can function as defenses against the attackers or may provide signals for other organisms. Volatile organic compounds, which are very specifically released from herbivore damaged plants, are such molecules with potential signaling function for prey-seeking predators or parasitoids or host-seeking herbivores. Some of the VOCs can even trigger responses in neighboring un-attacked plants, which then prime their responses to future herbivore attack. I will use some of our studies on herbivore-induced VOC emission of the wild tobacco plant Nicotiana attenuata as an example for the complexity of plant mediated species interactions to illustrate that these interactions are played out in an area that is much bigger than the plant itself. I will emphasize both the great value of using molecular and genetic tools in field research and the necessity of profound natural history knowledge of our study systems to understand the mechanisms of plant-insect interactions.
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1 - Cornell University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, E 445 Corson Hall, Ithaca, New York, 14853, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Date: Monday, July 31st, 2006
Time: 9:15 AM