The cyanogenic glucoside, dhurrin, present in Sorghum bicolor is thought to have multiple functions, including in defence against herbivory. The hormone methyl jasmonate (MeJA) is also induced by herbivory and is key to instigating defence processes in plants. To investigate whether dhurrin is induced in response to herbivore attack and also to the associated presence of MeJA, sorghum plants were either wounded or exogenous MeJA was applied. We show that specific wounding (pin board and perforation) and the application of MeJA increases dhurrin concentration in leaves and sheath tissue 12 h after treatment. Quantitative PCR shows that the expression of two genes, SbCYP79A1 and SbUGT85B1, involved in the synthesis of dhurrin are significantly induced by exogenous MeJA and by wounding. Analysis of 2 kb of sequence upstream of the start codon of SbCYP79A1 identifies several cis-acting elements that have been linked to MeJA induction. A promoter deletion series, coupled to GFP, and transiently expressed in Nicotiana benthamiana suggests that there are potentially three sequence motifs (~-925 to -976) involved in the binding of transcription factors that result in increased expression of SbCYP79A1 and the synthesis of dhurrin in response to MeJA.

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