Constitutive overexpression of the pollen specific gene SKS13 in leaves reduces aphid performance on Arabidopsis thaliana

X. Chen, Z. Zhang, R.G.F. Visser, B.J. Vosman, C. Broekgaarden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Plants have developed a variety of mechanisms to counteract aphid attacks. They activate their defences by changing the expression of specific genes. Previously we identified an activation tag mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana on which Myzus persicae population development was reduced. Activation tag mutants are gain-of-function in which the expression of a gene is increased by the insertion of the Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S enhancer that acts on the natural promoter. By further characterizing this previously identified mutant we identified a gene that reduces performance of M. persicae and also provided clues about the mechanism involved. Results: We show that SKU5 SIMILAR 13 (SKS13), a gene whose expression in wild type plants is restricted to pollen and non-responsive to M. persicae attack, is overexpressed in the A. thaliana mutant showing reduced performance of M. persicae. Monitoring M. persicae feeding behaviour on SKS13 overexpressing plants indicated that M. persicae have difficulties feeding from the phloem. The constitutive expression of SKS13 results in accumulation of reactive oxygen species, which is possibly regulated through the jasmonic acid pathway. The enhanced resistance is not aphid species specific as also the population development of Brevicoryne brassicae was affected. Conclusions: We demonstrate that constitutive expression in leaves of the pollen-specific gene SKS13 can enhance plant defence, resulting in a reduction of M. persicae population development and also decreases the transmission of persistent viruses. Overexpression of SKS13 in A. thaliana also affects B. brassicae and possibly other phloem feeding insects as well. Identifying genes that can enhance plant defence against insects will be important to open up new avenues for the development of insect resistant crop plants.
Original languageEnglish
Article number217
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • russian wheat aphid
  • green peach aphid
  • plant defense
  • transcriptome changes
  • resistance responses
  • peroxidase-activity
  • insect herbivores
  • myzus-persicae
  • watery saliva
  • activation


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