Bringing Fundamental Insights of Induced Resistance to Agricultural Management of Herbivore Pests

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In response to herbivory, most plant species adjust their chemical and morphological phenotype to acquire induced resistance to the attacking herbivore. Induced resistance may be an optimal defence strategy that allows plants to reduce metabolic costs of resistance in the absence of herbivores, allocate resistance to the most valuable plant tissues and tailor its response to the pattern of attack by multiple herbivore species. Moreover, plasticity in resistance decreases the potential that herbivores adapt to specific plant resistance traits and need to deal with a moving target of variable plant quality. Induced resistance additionally allows plants to provide information to other community members to attract natural enemies of its herbivore attacker or inform related neighbouring plants of pending herbivore attack. Despite the clear evolutionary benefits of induced resistance in plants, crop protection strategies to herbivore pests have not exploited the full potential of induced resistance for agriculture. Here, we present evidence that induced resistance offers strong potential to enhance resistance and resilience of crops to (multi-) herbivore attack. Specifically, induced resistance promotes plant plasticity to cope with multiple herbivore species by plasticity in growth and resistance, maximizes biological control by attracting natural enemies and, enhances associational resistance of the plant stand in favour of yield. Induced resistance may be further harnessed by soil quality, microbial communities and associational resistance offered by crop mixtures. In the transition to more sustainable ecology-based cropping systems that have strongly reduced pesticide and fertilizer input, induced resistance may prove to be an invaluable trait in breeding for crop resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-229
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Issue number5-6
Early online date4 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • Induced direct and indirect resistance
  • Pest management strategies
  • Plant defence
  • Sustainable ecology-based cropping systems


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