Friday, September 13, 2013

Journal club - Green leafy volatiles

Green leafy volatiles got voted in as one of the topics for this semester's journal club.

Today's journal club paper is An amino acid substitution inhibits specialist herbivore production of an antagonist effector and recovers insect-induced plant defenses by Schmelz et al. (2012).

In my opinion, this paper was reasonably solid but poorly delivered. The experiments and concepts presented were simple, but the authors seemed to go out of their way to make them opaque; the introduction and discussion were a bit aimless. I think a simple re-write would increase the cogency and leave more room to make more intuitive figures.

The conclusions seem fine, although I'm surprised the authors didn't also follow up with the aspartic acid substitution (Fig 4B) a bit further since the 11-mer dramatically reduced the Vu-In$^{-A}$ recovery (even if the 19-mer version didn't perform as well).

The Llama, Precocious as she is, suggested that it would have also been nice to see a plot like Fig 3B (the paired dose response) for Vu-In$^{-A}$ and Vu-In$^{\bigtriangleup V}$ to see if the defense response is considerably antagonized by the ~77% Vu-In$^{-A}$ as it was in Fig 3B. However, I suppose we'd expect it to be similar to the Vi-In$^{-A}$ and Vu-In in Fig 3B since it looks like the response difference is caused by differences in proteolysis efficiency that changes the relative abundance in the saliva (Fig 4B and C).

And for my comment:

"I thought the authors' interpretations of their findings were reasonable, although showing what caused the VBC larvae to produce the altered inceptin ratio would be more convincing. This paper reminded me of the Red Queen hypothesis for host/parasite or predator/prey relationships, and for me its amusing to think that plants evolved to detect digested bits of themselves; it seems reasonable that this provides more information regarding the source of the damage and what the appropriate defense response should be rather than just general mechanical damage sensing."

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