The study is published on Nature Plants.  Reduced insect pest populations found on long-term organic farms have mostly been attributed to increased biodiversity and abundance of beneficial predators, as well as to changes in plant nutrient content. However, the role of plant resistance has largely been ignored. Here, we determine whether host plant resistance mediates decreased pest populations in organic sys-tems and identify potential underpinning mechanisms. We demonstrate that fewer numbers of leafhoppers (Circulifer tenel-lus) settle on tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) grown using organic management as compared to conventional. We present multiple lines of evidence, including rhizosphere soil microbiome sequencing, chemical analysis and transgenic approaches, to demonstrate that changes in leafhopper settling between organically and conventionally grown tomatoes are dependent on salicylic acid accumulation in plants and mediated by rhizosphere microbial communities. These results suggest that organically managed soils and microbial communities may play an unappreciated role in reducing plant attractiveness to pests by increasing plant resistance.

The study can be downloaded at this LINK

Robert Blundell, Jennifer E. Schmidt, Alexandria Igwe, Andrea L. Cheung, Rachel L. Vannette, Amélie C. M. Gaudin and Clare L. Casteel