Morphological and chemical factors related to western flower thrips resistance in the ornamental gladiolus

Dinar S.C. Wahyuni, Young Hae Choi, Kirsten A. Leiss, Peter G.L. Klinkhamer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Understanding the mechanisms involved in host plant resistance opens the way for improved resistance breeding programs by using the traits involved as markers. Pest management is a major problem in cultivation of ornamentals. Gladiolus (Gladiolus hybridus L.) is an economically important ornamental in the Netherlands. Gladiolus is especially sensitive to attack by western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera:Thripidae)). The objective of this study was, therefore, to investigate morphological and chemical markers for resistance breeding to western flower thrips in Gladiolus varieties. We measured thrips damage of 14 Gladiolus varieties in a whole-plant thrips bioassay and related this to morphological traits with a focus on papillae density. Moreover, we studied chemical host plant resistance to using an eco-metabolomic approach comparing the1H NMR profiles of thrips resistant and susceptible varieties representing a broad range of papillae densities. Thrips damage varied strongly among varieties: the most susceptible variety showed 130 times more damage than the most resistant one. Varieties with low thrips damage had shorter mesophylls and epidermal cells, as well as a higher density of epicuticular papillae. All three traits related to thrips damage were highly correlated with each other. We observed a number of metabolites related to resistance against thrips: two unidentified triterpenoid saponins and the amino acids alanine and threonine. All these compounds were highly correlated amongst each other as well as to the density of papillae. These correlations suggest that papillae are involved in resistance to thrips by producing and/or storing compounds causing thrips resistance. Although it is not possible to distinguish the individual effects of morphological and chemical traits statistically, our results show that papillae density is an easy marker in Gladiolus-breeding programs targeted at increased resistance to thrips.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1384
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021


  • Eco-metabolomics
  • Epidermis
  • Frankliniella occidentalis
  • Gladiolus
  • Host plant resistance
  • Mesophyll
  • Morphological markers
  • Papillae


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