Wind-induced mechanical stimulation increases pest resistance in common bean
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The activation of the phenylpropanoid pathway in plants by environmental stimuli is one of the most universal biochemical stress responses known. Induction of enzymes such as phenylalanine ammonia-lyase and peroxidase and the accumulation of such phenolics as lignin can occur in response to insect and pathogen attack, exposure to oxidizing pollutants, and mechanical stimulation, and are thought to function in the resistance of plants to damage by these stresses. I investigated whether induction of components of this generalized stress response by wind-induced mechanical stimulation could influence the resistance to pests of common bean. In greenhouse studies, exposure of 7- to 10-day-old bean seedlings to daily periods of fan-produced wind led to increased activities of peroxidase and cinnamyl alcohol-dehydrogenase and enhanced the accumulation of lignin in primary leaves of these plants. Egg production and population growth of two-spotted spider mites were reduced when offered leaves of mechanically-stimulated plants in leaf-disk and whole-plant bioassays. Infection by anthracnose after inoculation in a detached-leaf bioassay was also reduced in leaves of mechanically-stimulated plants. The consistent positive association between the enhanced activity of the lignin branch of the phenylpropanoid pathway and enhanced resistance to pests found in leaves of mechanically-stimulated plants illustrates one way in which exposure of plants to environmental stimuli that activate a generalized stress response (e.g., wind) can influence the interactions of those plants with other environmental stimuli (e.g., pests).
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