Gall-inducing insects are known for altering source—sink relationships within plants. Changes in photosynthesis may contribute to this phenomenon. We investigated photosynthetic responses in wheat [Triticum aestivum L. (Poaceae: Triticeae)] seedlings attacked by the Hessian fly [Mayetiola destructor (Say) (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae], which uses a salivary effector-based strategy to induce a gall nutritive tissue in susceptible plants. Resistant plants have surveillance systems mediated by products of Resistance (R) genes. Detection of a specific salivary effector triggers downstream responses that result in a resistance that kills neonate larvae. A 2 × 2 factorial design was used to study maximum leaf photosynthetic assimilation and stomatal conductance rates. The plant treatments were—resistant or susceptible wheat lines expressing or not expressing the H13 resistance gene. The insect treatments were—no attack (control) or attack by larvae killed by H13 gene-mediated resistance. Photosynthesis was measured for the second and third leaves of the seedling, the latter being the only leaf directly attacked by larvae. We predicted effector-based attack would trigger increases in photosynthetic rates in susceptible but not resistant plants. For susceptible plants, attack was associated with increases (relative to controls) in photosynthesis for the third but not the second leaf. For resistant plants, attack was associated with increases in photosynthesis for both the second and third leaves. Mechanisms underlying the increases appeared to differ. Resistant plants exhibited responses suggesting altered source—sink relationships. Susceptible plants exhibited responses suggesting a mechanism other than altered source—sink relationships, possibly changes in water relations that contributed to increased stomatal conductance.
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Vol. 44 • No. 3