Plant Responses to Wounding


Plants react to wounding and herbivory by activating complex signalling pathways that lead to transcriptional reprogramming at the damaged leaf and at distal, undamaged ones. Signalling involves the perception of both damaged‐self and herbivore‐derived elicitors, and may be modulated by insect oral secretions. Systemic transmission of the signal occurs along the vasculature, and involves membrane depolarisation and hydraulic waves. An increase in jasmonic acid (JA)‐Ile synthesis is a hallmark of damage. JA‐Ile binding by the COI1‐JAZ receptor complex results in degradation of JAZ repressors, thereby releasing transcription factors that activate local and systemic defence gene expression. There is little overlap between the set of genes induced in the damaged leaf and that in distal, undamaged ones. Whereas genes induced locally are largely devoted to wound healing and limiting further desiccation, many of those induced systemically produce defensive proteins that reduce the nutritional value of the tissue, in anticipation of subsequent herbivore attack.

Key Concepts

  • Plants have an intrinsic response to damage that triggers transcriptional reprogramming.
  • Wounding releases plant‐derived damage‐associated molecular patterns (DAMPs).
  • Herbivory activates the plant's response to damage, which is modulated by herbivore‐derived elicitors and oral secretions.
  • Damage‐responsive genes are induced close to the wounds and in distal, undamaged tissues.
  • Damage signals generated at the wound site travel along the vasculature to trigger a systemic defence response.
  • Synthesis and perception of JA‐Ile is key for wound‐induced gene expression.
  • JA‐Ile binding to the COI1/JAZ receptor complex triggers degradation of JAZ repressors, thereby releasing transcription factors that regulate wound‐responsive gene expression.

Keywords: damage; herbivory; DAMPs; wound signals; jasmonic acid; COI1/JAZ receptor; defence gene expression

Figure 1. Caterpillars avoid damaging the vasculature, especially large vessels, while feeding. Elm (Ulmus minor) leaves attacked by the elm‐leaf beetle (Xanthogaleruca luteola). Scale bar: 1 cm.
Figure 2. Diagram of the JA biosynthesis pathway. Upon wounding, lipases (PLA) release from the membrane linolenic acid, which is converted to cis‐(+)‐OPDA after several enzymatic steps within chloroplasts (green). OPDA is transported to peroxisomes via the Comatose transporter. Once in the peroxisome (grey), OPDA is reduced to OPC‐8:0, undergoing β‐oxidation to yield JA, which moves to the cytoplasm (white) by unknown mechanisms to produce the bioactive (+)‐7‐iso‐jasmonoyl‐l‐isoleucine.
Figure 3. Arabidopsis plants carrying a choline kinase promoter driving UidA expression preferentially accumulate β‐glucuronidase at the vicinity of a wound. A leaf from a CK1pro:UidA seedling was cut, damaged at two places with forceps and, after 6 h, stained for β‐glucuronidase activity. Scale bar: 1 mm.
Figure 4. Schematic representation of local and systemic wound signalling. Wounding releases damage‐associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) that, in the case of herbivory, are accompanied by insect‐derived elicitors (HAMPs) and oral secretions (OS). DAMPs and HAMPs activate JA‐Ile synthesis, but DAMPs' perception may be in part reduced by OS. DAMPs may directly activate gene expression in the damaged leaf. Simultaneously, some DAMPs (for instance, oligogalacturonates) block JA‐responsive local gene expression. The wound‐induced JA increase triggers a systemic signal that involves Ca2+ fluxes and ROS (reactive oxygen species) production, and is accompanied by electrical and hydraulic waves. The signal travels along the vasculature, preferentially to directly connected leaves, where it requires glutamate receptor‐like (GLR3) and vacuolar Ca2+ TPC1 channels for propagation. Once the signal reaches distal leaves, JA‐Ile levels increase. In both damaged and distal, non‐damaged leaves, high JA‐Ile levels activate gene expression by COI1‐mediated degradation of JAZ transcriptional repressors.


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Further Reading

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Zebelo SA and Maffei ME (2015) Role of early signalling events in plant‐insect interactions. Journal of Experimental Botany 66: 435–448.

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How to Cite close
Sanchez‐Serrano, Jose J(Feb 2017) Plant Responses to Wounding. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001321.pub2]