This study aimed to reveal the dynamics of inducible anti-herbivory traits in the brown seaweed Fucus vesiculosus, in response to grazing by the isopod Idotea baltica. As the molecular basis of defence induction in seaweeds is poorly understood, a transcriptomic approach was used to gain insight into cellular processes underlying defence induction and thus promote the mechanistic understanding of anti-herbivory responses in seaweeds. In a 27 day feeding-assayed induction experiment, temporal patterns of the induced anti-herbivory resistance of F. vesiculosus were assessed under laboratory conditions. Feeding assays were performed at three day intervals, using fresh and reconstituted food. Microarray hybridizations investigating the expression of genes 3 days before, as well as at the same time as, feeding assays revealed a decreased palatability of previously grazed F. vesiculosus pieces compared with non-grazed control pieces. Despite permanent exposure to grazers, F. vesiculosus palatability varied over time. Non-grazed F. vesiculosus pieces were significantly preferred to grazed pieces after 18 and again after 27 days of previous grazing, while their relative palatability for isopods was comparable at all other times during the experiment. Relative to controls, 562/402 genes were ≥ 1.5-fold up-/down-regulated in seaweed pieces that were grazed for 18 days, i.e. when induction of defences was detected in feeding assays. Massive reprogramming of the regulatory expression orchestra (translation, transcription) as well as up-regulation of genes involved in lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, intracellular trafficking, defence and stress response was found. At the same time, down-regulation of photosynthesis was observed in grazed seaweed pieces. This study suggests a high level of temporal variability in induced anti-herbivory traits of F. vesiculosus and reveals increased expression of genes with putative defensive functions in conjunction with the reallocation of resources from primary to secondary metabolism.
AWI Organizations > Biosciences > Ecological Chemistry