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Upon insect herbivore attack, plants release a specific blend of volatile organic compounds which are known to play an important role in direct and indirect plant defense. Recent studies with mainly herbaceous plant species have shown that herbivore-induced plant volatiles can prime non-infested tissues to show a faster and stronger defense response upon subsequent herbivore attack. Evidence for defense priming in long-lived woody plant species, however, and the consequences for insect herbivore behavior and performance are still scarce. The aim of my studies is to investigate the effects of the volatile mediated priming phenomenon on the defense chemistry of the tree species, Populus nigra (black poplar) and consequences for its natural herbivores, such as gypsy moth caterpillars (Lymantria dispar). To achieve this I will combine classic ecological techniques like food choice and larval performance assays, with biochemical methods like monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with GC-MS/FID and other plant defenses (phenolics, defense proteins) and defense hormones via LC-MS and enzyme assays.
last updated on 2017-09-11