Spectral characterization of wheat functional trait responses to Hessian fly: Mechanisms for trait-based resistance.PLoS One. 2019; 14(8):e0219431.Plos
Insect herbivores can manipulate host plants to inhibit defenses. Insects that induce plant galls are excellent examples of these interactions. The Hessian fly (HF, Mayetiola destructor) is a destructive pest of wheat (Triticum spp.) that occurs in nearly all wheat producing globally. Under compatible interactions (i.e., successful HF establishment), HF larvae alter host tissue physiology and morphology for their benefit, manifesting as the development of plant nutritive tissue that feeds the larva and ceases plant cell division and elongation. Under incompatible interactions (i.e., unsuccessful HF establishment), plants respond to larval feeding by killing the larva, permitting normal plant development. We used reflectance spectroscopy to characterize whole-plant functional trait responses during both compatible and incompatible interactions and related these findings with morphological and gene expression observations from earlier studies. Spectral models successfully characterized wheat foliar traits, with mean goodness of fit statistics of 0.84, 0.85, 0.94, and 0.69 and percent root mean square errors of 22, 10, 6, and 20%, respectively, for nitrogen and carbon concentrations, leaf mass per area, and total phenolic content. We found that larvae capable of generating compatible interactions successfully manipulated host plant chemical and morphological composition to create a more hospitable environment. Incompatible interactions resulted in lower host plant nutritional quality, thicker leaves, and higher phenolic levels. Spectral measurements successfully characterized wheat responses to compatible and incompatible interactions, providing an excellent example of the utility of Spectral phenotyping in quantifying responses of specific plant functional traits associated with insect resistance.