Indexed on: 05 Jun '07Published on: 05 Jun '07Published in: Journal of experimental botany
Plants are equipped with a range of defence mechanisms against herbivorous insects. In cruciferous species, jasmonic acid, salicylic acid, and ethylene along with glucosinolates and their hydrolysis products play important roles in plant protection and plant-insect communication. In turn, a number of herbivores have adapted to plants that contain glucosinolates. As a result of adaptation to their host plants, specialized insects may elicit different plant-inducible responses than generalists. Oligonucleotide microarrays and qRT-PCR analysis were used to characterize transcriptional profiles of Arabidopsis thaliana plants in response to infestation with a generalist aphid, Myzus persicae, or a cruciferous plant specialist, Brevicoryne brassicae. To find possible differences and similarities in molecular responses between plants differing in predominant glucosinolate hydrolysis products, three ecotypes of A. thaliana were chosen: Wassilewskija (Ws), Cape Verde Islands (Cvi), and Landsberg erecta (Ler), which, respectively, produce mainly isothiocyanates, epithionitriles, and nitriles. In all three ecotypes, general stress-responsive genes, genes belonging to octadecanoid and indole glucosinolate synthesis pathways were induced upon both generalist and specialist attack. By contrast, transcription of myrosinases, enzymes hydrolysing glucosinolates, was suppressed. The induction of the jasmonic acid synthesis pathway was strongest in Cvi, while the up-regulation of the indole glucosinolate synthesis pathway was highest in Ler, suggesting a slightly different defence strategy in these two ecotypes. Specialist and generalist infestations caused statistically significant differential regulation of 60 genes in Ws and 21 in Cvi. Among these were jasmonic acid and tryptophan synthesis pathway enzymes, and pathogenesis related protein (PR1). Insect no-choice experiments revealed lowered fitness of B. brassicae on Ler and Cvi in comparison to Ws, but no ecotype-dependent change in fecundity of M. persicae. Targeted studies employing constructs of GUS reporter gene under the control of promoters from CYP79B2 and CYP79B3 genes showed insect-specific induction of the indole glucosinolates synthesis pathway.