The Costs of Green Leaf Volatile-Induced Defense Priming: Temporal Diversity in Growth Responses to Mechanical Wounding and Insect Herbivory
Green leaf volatiles (GLVs) have long been associated with plant defense responses against insect herbivory. Although some of their biological activities appear to directly affect the attacking herbivore, one of the major functions of GLVs seems to be the priming of these defense responses. This priming is generally considered to impose low costs on the plant should no direct attack happen. Here, we demonstrate that priming of maize seedlings with GLVs is costly for the plants as it results in significantly reduced growth. We further demonstrate that priming very selectively affects growth responses after insect elicitor treatment and mechanical wounding depending on the age and/or the developmental stage of the treated plant. The differential growth response of maize seedlings to treatment with GLVs and subsequent herbivory-related damage sheds new light on the biological activity of these important plant volatile compounds and indicates consequences that go beyond defense.