Role of methyl salicylate on oviposition deterrence in Arabidopsis thaliana

J Chem Ecol. 2014 Jul;40(7):754-9. doi: 10.1007/s10886-014-0470-9. Epub 2014 Jun 29.


Plants attacked by herbivores have evolved different strategies that fend off their enemies. Insect eggs deposited on leaves have been shown to inhibit further oviposition through visual or chemical cues. In some plant species, the volatile methyl salicylate (MeSA) repels gravid insects but whether it plays the same role in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana is currently unknown. Here we showed that Pieris brassicae butterflies laid fewer eggs on Arabidopsis plants that were next to a MeSA dispenser or on plants with constitutively high MeSA emission than on control plants. Surprisingly, the MeSA biosynthesis mutant bsmt1-1 treated with egg extract was still repellent to butterflies when compared to untreated bsmt1-1. Moreover, the expression of BSMT1 was not enhanced by egg extract treatment but was induced by herbivory. Altogether, these results provide evidence that the deterring activity of eggs on gravid butterflies is independent of MeSA emission in Arabidopsis, and that MeSA might rather serve as a deterrent in plants challenged by feeding larvae.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / chemistry*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Butterflies / growth & development
  • Butterflies / physiology
  • Female
  • Herbivory
  • Larva / physiology
  • Male
  • Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Oviposition / drug effects
  • Ovum / chemistry
  • Ovum / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Salicylates / metabolism*
  • Salicylates / pharmacology


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Salicylates
  • BSMT1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Methyltransferases
  • methyl salicylate