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    Herbivores and pathogens come quickly to mind when one thinks of the biotic challenges faced by plants. Important but less appreciated enemies are parasitic plants, which can have important consequences for the fitness and survival of their hosts. Our knowledge of plant perception, signaling and response to herbivores and pathogens has expanded rapidly in recent years, but information is generally lacking for parasitic species. In a recent paper we reported that some of the same defense responses induced by herbivores and pathogens - notably increases in jasmonic acid (JA), salicylic acid (SA), and a hypersensitive-like response (HLR) - also occur in tomato plants upon attack by the parasitic plant Cuscuta pentagona (field dodder). Parasitism induced a distinct pattern of JA and SA accumulation, and growth trials using genetically-altered tomato hosts suggested that both JA and SA govern effective defenses against the parasite, though the extent of the response varied with host plant age. Here we discuss similarities between the induced responses we observed in response to Cuscuta parasitism to those previously described for herbivores and pathogens and present new data showing that trichomes should be added to the list of plant defenses that act against multiple enemies and across kingdoms.

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    Runyon, Justin B.; Mescher, Mark C.; De Moraes, Consuelo M. 2010. Plant defenses against parasitic plants show similarities to those induced by herbivores and pathogens. Plant Signaling and Behavior. 5(8): 929-931.


    Cuscuta, induced defenses, parasitic plant, jasmonic acid, salicylic acid, phytohormones, hypersensitive response, trichomes, defense signaling

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