Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi may help protect plants against herbivores; however, their use for the pest control of woody plants requires further study. Here, we investigated the effect of Glomus mosseae colonization on the interactions between gypsy moth larvae and Populus alba × P. berolinensis seedlings and deciphered the regulatory mechanisms underlying the mycorrhizal-induced resistance in the leaves of mycorrhizal poplar using RNA-seq and nontargeted metabolomics. The resistance assay showed that AM fungus inoculation protected poplar seedlings against gypsy moth larvae, as evidenced by the decreased larval growth and reduced larval survival. A transcriptome analysis revealed that differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were involved in jasmonic acid biosynthesis (lipoxygenase, hydroperoxide dehydratase, and allene oxide cyclase) and signal transduction (jasmonate-ZIM domain and transcription factor MYC2) and identified the genes that were upregulated in mycorrhizal seedlings. Except for chalcone synthase and anthocyanidin synthase, which were downregulated in mycorrhizal seedlings, all DEGs related to flavonoid biosynthesis were upregulated, including 4-coumarate-CoA ligase, chalcone isomerase, flavanone 3-hydroxylase, flavonol synthase, and leucoanthocyanidin reductase. The metabolome analysis showed that several metabolites with insecticidal properties, including coumarin, stachydrine, artocarpin, norizalpinin, abietic acid, 6-formylumbelliferone, and vanillic acid, were significantly accumulated in the mycorrhizal seedlings. These findings suggest the potential of mycorrhiza-induced resistance for use in pest management of woody plants and demonstrate that the priming of JA-dependent responses in poplar seedlings contributes to mycorrhiza-induced resistance to insect pests.
© 2021. The Author(s).