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Phloem feeding insects are among the most devastating pests worldwide. They not only cause damage by feeding from the phloem, but also by vectoring plant viruses. During their evolution plants have developed a variety of defense traits to combat insects. These plant resistance traits can be antixenotic and/or antibiotic. Antixenosis is the first line of defense that prevents insects from landing and settling, while antibiosis reduces the population development of the colonizing insects.In this project we aimed at identifying genes that can increase resistance towards phloem feeding insects and also prevent, as far as possible, transmission of viruses. Acknowledging that changing the expression level or expression localization of genes might increase resistance, we screened an Arabidopsis thaliana activation tag gain-of-function mutant collection for increased resistance towards the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae). In these mutants, tagged genes are overexpressed by the strong 35S enhancer adjacent to the natural promoter that results in a dominant gain-of-function phenotype. The overexpression of a particular gene in such mutants may result in enhanced resistance to aphids and other phloem feeding insects.
To identify mutants with increased insect resistance efficient and reproducible screening methods needed to be developed first. Based on the hypothesis that there is a trade-off between plant fitness and plant resistance, we first screened a subset of 170 mutants that were previously selected based on their reduced growth to increase the chance of identifying mutants with increasedresistance. In this screening we usedchoice assays and selected one mutant that displays enhanced antixenosis based resistance towards aphids. Further characterization of this mutant revealed that that the antixenosis is phloem based and requires intact plants.
To evaluate aphid resistance of a larger number (>5000) of activation tag mutants, we established a high throughput screening system in which plant resistance against aphids is inferred from a reduced transmission of the circulative Turnip yellows virus(TuYV). This virus can only be transmitted into a plant after virus-infected aphids feed for a prolonged (> 10min) time from the phloem sap. In the initial screening 13 virus-free mutant lines were identified. The putative candidate mutant lines were re-evaluated and characterized, resulting in nine mutants on which aphids showed a reduced population development.
Molecular analysis of two of these mutants revealed that the genes underlying the resistance were IRM1(Increased ResistancetoMyzus persicae1,At5g65040)and SKS13 (SKU5Similar13, At3g13400). In wild type plants,IRM1is strongly expressed in xylem and extremely low expressed in other plant tissue whereas SKS13 is exclusively expressed in pollen. We show that constitutive overexpression of these genes in all plant tissues confers enhanced resistance towards aphids. Analysis of aphid feeding behavior showed that the resistance conferred by IRM1and SKS13affect the aphids differently. On the IRM1 overexpressing mutant aphids encounter difficulties in reaching the phloem, indicating that resistance factors are located between the cell surface and the phloem. On the SKS13overexpressingmutant the phloem feeding of aphids is severely affected, indicating that resistance factors are phloem based. Further analysis strongly suggests the involvement of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) in the reduced aphid performance on the SKS13overexpressingmutant. We also show that the resistances are not aphid specific, as the performance of the cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae)is also affectedon both overexpressing mutants.
The results obtained in this thesis show that plant resistance to insects can be increased by expressing genes that are assigned for other biological functions. Characterization of the identified mutants revealed twogenes conferring enhanced aphid resistance via different mechanisms. These findings lead to a better understanding of plant-aphid interactions on the molecular level. Furthermore, such knowledge obtained from the model plant A.thalianashould be applied in crop plants, which can be achieved by transgenic and genetic studies in combination with newly developed techniques, such as RNAi and TILLING.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||22 Nov 2013|
|Place of Publication||[S.l.]|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|
- arabidopsis thaliana
- insect pests
- myzus persicae
- pest resistance
- gene mapping
- gene expression
- plant breeding
- turnip yellows virus
- disease vectors