Plants are often simultaneously challenged by pathogens and insects capable of triggering an array of responses that may be beneficial or detrimental to the plant. The efficacy of resistance mechanisms can be strongly influenced by the mix of signals generated by biotic stress as well as abiotic stress such as drought, nutrient limitation or high soil salinity. An understanding of their biochemical nature, and knowledge of the specificity and compatibility of the signaling systems that regulate the expression of inducible responses could optimize the utilization of these responses in crop protection. Signaling conflicts and synergies occur during a plant’s response to pathogens and insect herbivores, and much of the research on defense signaling has focused on salicylate- and jasmonate-mediated responses.We will review our results using tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) in greenhouse and field studies that illustrate a trade-off between salicylate- and jasmonate-mediated signaling, and discuss research on strategies to minimize the trade-off that can occur following the application of chemical elicitors of resistance. In addition, there is evidence of another signaling system that mediates endogenous levels of ceramide in the plant. This signal is associated with programmed cell death and protection of tomato against the fungal pathogen Alternaria alternata f. sp. lycopersici.
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