Common mycorrhizal networks (CMNs) link multiple plants together. We hypothesized that CMNs can serve as an underground conduit for transferring herbivore-induced defence signals. We established CMN between two tomato plants in pots with mycorrhizal fungus Funneliformis mosseae, challenged a 'donor' plant with caterpillar Spodoptera litura, and investigated defence responses and insect resistance in neighbouring CMN-connected 'receiver' plants. After CMN establishment caterpillar infestation on 'donor' plant led to increased insect resistance and activities of putative defensive enzymes, induction of defence-related genes and activation of jasmonate (JA) pathway in the 'receiver' plant. However, use of a JA biosynthesis defective mutant spr2 as 'donor' plants resulted in no induction of defence responses and no change in insect resistance in 'receiver' plants, suggesting that JA signalling is required for CMN-mediated interplant communication. These results indicate that plants are able to hijack CMNs for herbivore-induced defence signal transfer and interplant defence communication.
Song, Y., Ye, M., Li, C., He, X., Zhu-Salzman, K., Wang, R., ... Zeng, R. (2014). Hijacking common mycorrhizal networks for herbivore-induced defence signal transfer between tomato plants. Scientific Reports, 4, 8pp. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep03915