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      Constitutive plant toxins and their role in defense against herbivores and pathogens.

      Current Opinion in Plant Biology
      Animals, Fungi, growth & development, Host-Parasite Interactions, Immunity, Innate, Insects, Plant Diseases, microbiology, parasitology, Plants, chemistry, Toxins, Biological, metabolism

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          Abstract

          Most recent investigations have focused on induced, rather than constitutive, plant defenses. Yet significant research has helped to illuminate some of the principal characteristics of constitutive defenses, including mechanisms of action and synergistic effects, as well as strategies used by herbivores and pathogens to circumvent them.

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          Plant responses to insect herbivory: the emerging molecular analysis.

          Plants respond to herbivore attack with a bewildering array of responses, broadly categorized as direct and indirect defenses, and tolerance. Plant-herbivore interactions are played out on spatial scales that include the cellular responses, well-studied in plant-pathogen interactions, as well as responses that function at whole-plant and community levels. The plant's wound response plays a central role but is frequently altered by insect-specific elicitors, giving plants the potential to optimize their defenses. In this review, we emphasize studies that advance the molecular understanding of elicited direct and indirect defenses and include verifications with insect bioassays. Large-scale transcriptional changes accompany insect-induced resistance, which is organized into specific temporal and spatial patterns and points to the existence of herbivore-specific trans-activating elements orchestrating the responses. Such organizational elements could help elucidate the molecular control over the diversity of responses elicited by herbivore attack.
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            Sequestration of defensive substances from plants by Lepidoptera.

            A number of aposematic butterfly and diurnal moth species sequester unpalatable or toxic substances from their host plants rather than manufacturing their own defensive substances. Despite a great diversity in their life histories, there are some general features in the selective utilization of plant secondary metabolites to achieve effective protection from predators. This review illustrates the biochemical, physiological, and ecological characteristics of phytochemical-based defense systems that can shed light on the evolution of the widely developed sequestering lifestyles among the Lepidoptera.
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              Metabolic costs of terpenoid accumulation in higher plants.

              The net value of any plant trait can be assessed by measuring the costs and benefits associated with that trait. While the other contributors to this issue examine the possible benefits of terpenoids to plants, this article explores the metabolic costs of terpenoid accumulation in plants in the light of recent advances in terpenoid biochemistry. Terpenoids are more expensive to manufacture per gram than most other primary and secondary metabolites due to their extensive chemical reduction. The enzyme costs of making terpenoids are also high since terpenoid biosynthetic enzymes are apparently not shared with other metabolic pathways. In fact, plant cells may even possess more than one set of enzymes for catalyzing the basic steps of terpenoid formation. Terpenoids are usually sequestered in complex, multicellular secretory structures, and so storage costs for these substances are also likely to be substantial. However, not all of the processes involved in terpenoid accumulation require large investments of resources. For instance, the maintenance of terpenoid pools is probably inexpensive because there is no evidence that substantial quantities of terpenes are lost as a result of metabolic turnover, volatilization, or leaching. Moreover, plants may reduce their net terpenoid costs by employing individual compounds in more than one role or by catabolizing substances that are no longer needed, although it is still unclear if such practices are widespread. These findings (and other facets of terpenoid biochemistry and physiology) are discussed in relation to the assumptions and predictions of several current theories of plant defense, including the carbonnutrient balance hypothesis, the growth-differentiation balance hypothesis, and the resource availability hypothesis.
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