Survey of Sensitivity to Fatty Acid-Amino Acid Conjugates in the Solanaceae

Laquita Grissett, Azka Ali, Anne Marie Coble, Khalilah Logan, Brandon Washington, Abigail Mateson, Kelsey McGee, Yaw Nkrumah, Leighton Jacobus, Evelyn Abraham, Claire Hann, Carlton J. Bequette, Sarah R. Hind, Eric A. Schmelz, Johannes W. Stratmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plants perceive insect herbivores via a sophisticated surveillance system that detects a range of alarm signals, including herbivore-associated molecular patterns (HAMPs). Fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) are HAMPs present in oral secretions (OS) of lepidopteran larvae that induce defense responses in many plant species. In contrast to eggplant (Solanum melongena), tomato (S. lycopersicum) does not respond to FACs present in OS from Manduca sexta (Lepidoptera). Since both plants are found in the same genus, we tested whether loss of sensitivity to FACs in tomato may be a domestication effect. Using highly sensitive MAP kinase (MAPK) phosphorylation assays, we demonstrate that four wild tomato species and the closely related potato (S. tuberosum) do not respond to the FACs N-linolenoyl-L-glutamine and N-linolenoyl-L-glutamic acid, excluding a domestication effect. Among other genera within the Solanaceae, we found that bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) is responsive to FACs, while there is a differential responsiveness to FACs among tobacco (Nicotiana) species, ranging from strong responsiveness in N. benthamiana to no responsiveness in N. knightiana. The Petunia lineage is one of the oldest lineages within the Solanaceae and P. hybrida was responsive to FACs. Collectively, we demonstrate that plant responsiveness to FACs does not follow simple phylogenetic relationships in the family Solanaceae. Instead, sensitivity to FACs is a dynamic ancestral trait present in monocots and eudicots that was repeatedly lost during the evolution of Solanaceae species. Although tomato is insensitive to FACs, we found that other unidentified factors in M. sexta OS induce defenses in tomato.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-343
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Fatty acid-amino acid conjugate
  • Herbivore-associated molecular patterns (HAMPs)
  • Lepidoptera
  • MAPK
  • Manduca sexta
  • Solanaceae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry


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