Decreased Emergence of Emerald Ash Borer From Ash (Fraxinus Spp.) Treated with Methyl Jasmonate is Associated with Induction of General Defense Traits and the Toxic Phenolic Compound Verbascoside

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The emerald ash borer (EAB; Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire) is causing widespread mortality of ash (Fraxinus spp.) in North America. To date, no mechanisms of host resistance have been identified against this pest. Methyl jasmonate was applied to susceptible North American and resistant Asian ash species to determine if it can elicit induced responses in bark that enhance resistance to EAB. In particular, phenolic compounds, lignin, and defense-related proteins were quantified, and compounds associated with resistance were subsequently tested directly against EAB larvae in bioassays with artificial diet. MeJA application decreased adult emergence in susceptible ash species, comparable to levels achieved by insecticide application. Concentration of the phenolic compound verbascoside sharply increased after MeJA application to green and white ash. When incorporated in an artificial diet, verbascoside decreased survival and growth of EAB neonates in a dose-dependent fashion. Lignin and trypsin inhibitors were also induced by MeJA, and analogs of both compounds reduced growth of EAB larvae in artificial diets. We conclude that the application of MeJA prior to EAB attack has the ability to enhance resistance of susceptible ash trees by inducing endogenous plant defenses, and report evidence that induction of verbascoside is a mechanism of resistance to EAB.



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