Linking aboveground and belowground interactions via induced plant defenses

Trends Ecol Evol. 2005 Nov;20(11):617-24. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2005.08.006. Epub 2005 Aug 29.


Plants have a variety of chemical defenses that often increase in concentration following attack by herbivores. Such induced plant responses can occur aboveground, in the leaves, and also belowground in the roots. We show here that belowground organisms can also induce defense responses aboveground and vice versa. Indirect defenses are particularly sensitive to interference by induced feeding activities in the other compartment, and this can disrupt multitrophic interactions. Unravelling the involvement of induced plant responses in the interactions between aboveground and belowground communities associated with plants is likely to benefit from comprehensive metabolomic analyses. Such analyses are likely to contribute to a better understanding of the costs and benefits involved in the selection for induced responses in plants.