Molecular Interactions Between Plants and Insect Herbivores

Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2019 Apr 29;70:527-557. doi: 10.1146/annurev-arplant-050718-095910. Epub 2019 Feb 20.


Diverse molecular processes regulate the interactions between plants and insect herbivores. Here, we review genes and proteins that are involved in plant-herbivore interactions and discuss how their discovery has structured the current standard model of plant-herbivore interactions. Plants perceive damage-associated and, possibly, herbivore-associated molecular patterns via receptors that activate early signaling components such as Ca2+, reactive oxygen species, and MAP kinases. Specific defense reprogramming proceeds via signaling networks that include phytohormones, secondary metabolites, and transcription factors. Local and systemic regulation of toxins, defense proteins, physical barriers, and tolerance traits protect plants against herbivores. Herbivores counteract plant defenses through biochemical defense deactivation, effector-mediated suppression of defense signaling, and chemically controlled behavioral changes. The molecular basis of plant-herbivore interactions is now well established for model systems. Expanding molecular approaches to unexplored dimensions of plant-insect interactions should be a future priority.

Keywords: DAMP; HAMP; damage-associated molecular pattern; herbivore-associated molecular pattern; insect herbivory; jasmonate; plant defense signaling; secondary metabolites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Herbivory*
  • Insecta*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Plants


  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases