Two herbivore-deterrent iridoid glycosides reduce the in-vitro growth of a specialist but not of a generalist pathogenic fungus of Plantago lanceolata L
Many secondary plant compounds are involved in defense against both insect herbivores and pathogens. Two secondary plant compounds of Plantago lanceolata, the iridoid glycosides catalpol and its precursor aucubin, are well known for their deterrent effects on generalist and non-adapted specialist insect herbivores. We tested the effects of these compounds on the in-vitro growth of a specialist and generalist fungal pathogen of this host species. Two chemical forms of these iridoids were tested. The glycosides and their aglycones, the products of enzymatic conversion by specific $/Beta$-glucosidase enzymes. The glycosides enhanced growth of both the specialist fungus Diaporthe adunca and the generalist fungus Fusarium moniliforme var. subglutinans. The positive effect of these glycosides on the generalist fungus is in sharp contrast with the generally negative effects of these glysosides on generalist insect herbivores. The aglycones of aucubin and catalpol reduced the growth of the specialist fungus D. adunca, but, contrary to expectation, enhanced the growth of the generalist fungus F. moniliforme var. subglutinans. Effects of aucubin on D. adunca were stronger than effects of catalpol. This was true both for the growth stimulating effects of the glycosides and for the fungitoxic effects of the aglycones. We therefore expect that the effects of these iridoids in P. lanceolata on the specialist fungus will strongly depend on the ratio between catalpol and its precursor aucubin and the chemical form (glycoside or aglycone) in which these compounds are encountered by the fungus during growth. Our results suggest that iridoid glycosides in P. lanceolata can be used as defense against both herbivores and pathogens, but that their effects are highly specific with respect to the natural enemy species that is encountered.
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