How do plants defend themselves? : Study of the Tomato - Tuta absoluta pathosystem in interaction with nitrogen fertilization

Abstract : The identification of ecophysiological responses of plants is a prerequisite for improving the natural defences of plants and reducing the use of chemical inputs in crops. Plant responses to herbivorous attack involve defence and tolerance mechanisms. Plant responses to a leafminer larva are pourly documented, in contrast to chewing and piercing insects. The objective of my Ph.D. was to characterize the tomato trait responses to Tuta absoluta herbivory in order to determine the local and systemic responses in terms of soluble and volatile compounds. We looked at the responses of tomatoes subjected to two contrasting levels of nitrogen availability, knowing that nitrogen is a lever to promote the basal plant defence level. We worked on tomato, a Solanaceae, grown in hydroponics and subjected to Tuta absoluta. Our research strategy has focused on identifying and quantifying soluble and volatile defence compounds and determining the nutritional value of foliar tissues. We have shown that tomatoes establish an induced- resistance against the herbivore, which results in a concentration increase of chlorogenic acid, caffeoyl putrescine and tomatine locally at the level of the parasite zone and / or systemically in the others non-infested foliar compartments. The defence role of these molecules on Tuta absoluta has yet to be confirmed. We have also shown that tomatoes set up an indirect defence against Tuta absoluta, based on the emission of volatile compounds in the vicinity of plants. We have identified several new herbivore-induced VOCs (m-cymene, menthatriene, ß-cis-ocimene, ß-phellandrene, terpinolene, ß−caryophyllene, humulene). Some of the identified VOCs are known to be emitted in greater quantities during a herbivorous attack and to play a role in attracting predatory insects or repelling egg-laying females. Thus, their elicitation seems generic to herbivory and not specific to Tuta absoluta. The specificity of tomato - Tuta absoluta interactions could be enhanced by further analysis in metabolomics, transcriptomics (expression of RNAseq genes) and by investigating the induced signaling pathways. Contrary to what was expected, our results show little effect of the nitrogen limitation on the observed responses. Nevertheless, as demonstrated previously, nitrogen restriction affects larval development. My work has reinforced the “trophic“ hypothesis of slowing larval development by a limited nitrogen availability. Thus, the stoichiometry of the food bowl is highly modified and the larvae have to consume more material to acquire the nitrogen necessary for their development. Nevertheless, we can not exclude the hypothesis “compounds of defence“. Indeed, we have shown that the concentrations of phenolic compounds and tomatine and of the VOC emission supposed to be involved in the constitutive defence are increased in the case of nitrogen limitation. The diversity and complementarity of the experiments will allow the acquired data to feed a functional model of the attacked plant. This model might include plant nitrogen regimes as a reactive plant defence factor
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Submitted on : Friday, November 16, 2018 - 10:42:28 AM
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Victoire Coqueret. How do plants defend themselves? : Study of the Tomato - Tuta absoluta pathosystem in interaction with nitrogen fertilization. Agronomy. Université de Lorraine, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017LORR0234⟩. ⟨tel-01924665⟩

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