Bacterial detoxification of plant defence secondary metabolites mediates the interaction between a shrub and frugivorous birds

Beny Trabelcy, Nimrod Shteindel, Maya Lalzar, Ido Izhaki, Yoram Gerchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Many plants produce fleshy fruits, attracting fruit-eating animals that disperse the seeds in their droppings. Such seed dispersal results in a conflict between the plant and the animal, as digestion of seeds can be highly beneficial to the animal but reduces plant fitness. The plant Ochradenus baccatus uses the myrosinase-glucosinolates system to protect its seeds. We show that hydrolysis of the O. baccatus fruit glucosinolates by the myrosinase enzyme inhibited digestive enzymes and hampered digestion in naïve individuals of the bird Pycnonotus xanthopygos. However, digestion in birds regularly feeding on O. baccatus fruits was unaffected. We find that Pantoea bacteria, dominating the gut of these experienced birds as well as the fruits, thrive on glucosinolates hydrolysis products in culture. Augmentation of Pantoea protects both naïve birds and plant seedlings from the effects of glucosinolates hydrolysis products. Our findings demonstrate a tripartite interaction, where the plant-bird mutually beneficial interactions are mediated by a communal bacterial tenant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1821
JournalNature Communications
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 31 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology

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