About this Research Topic
Currently, application of conventional agrochemicals with a toxic mode of action remains the main approach to combating insect attack in commercial crops. However, the ever-increasing problems of insecticides such as insect resistance, lack of availability of new active ingredients and off-target effects on beneficial insects and the environment mean that more sustainable and ecologically safer alternatives are urgently sought.
During their co-evolution with insects, plants have evolved a complex arsenal of defense mechanisms against antagonistic herbivores while also attracting beneficial insects. Some of their defenses are constitutive while others are induced after plant perception of stimuli associated with insect herbivory. Inducible defenses are regulated by a complex signaling network of phytohormones, such as salicylic acid (SA) and jasmonic acid (JA). Typically, JA is associated plant defenses against chewing insects while SA induces resistance against piercing/sucking insects but there is considerable variation between different insect-plant systems.
During the last two decades, numerous studies have revealed that induction of plant defense can be triggered by application of bioactive chemicals. This has raised the prospect that inducers of plant defense could serve as new tools for innovation in crop protection against insect pests.
While major advances have been made in our understanding of inducers that activate resistance against insect herbivores, practical applications are still at the experimental level. To advance, more consistent and repeatable responses to treatment are required. Thus, our goal is to draw together research that will elucidate what causes variability in induced defense responses in order to develop more robust and dependable treatments.
This Research Topic will highlight recent progress, key advances and future perspectives in manipulating plant defense against insects pests using bioactive chemicals. We welcome the submission of high-quality Original Research, Systematic Review, Review, Mini-Review, Opinion, and Perspective papers on the following themes:
- Studies on optimizing deployment of defense activators against herbivores, in particular understanding sources of variation and how to overcome them.
- Genetic and epigenetic studies elucidating how induced defense functions.
- Chemical studies identifying bioactive molecules that induce plant defense against herbivores.
- Studies bridging the gap between laboratory evaluation and field deployment of direct and indirect plant defenses triggered by plant activators.
- Studies on the potential, limitation and challenges of using defense activators in crop protection against insect pests in commercial crop cultivation.
Keywords: Induced plant defense, Priming, Tritrophic Interactions, Insects, Crop Protection
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