Overexpression of IRM1 Enhances Resistance to Aphids in Arabidopsis thaliana

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Aphids are insects that cause direct damage to crops by the removal of phloem sap, but more importantly they spread devastating viruses. Aphids use their sophisticated mouthpart (i.e. stylet) to feed from the phloem sieve elements of the host plant. To identify genes that affect host plant resistance to aphids, we previously screened an Arabidopsis thaliana activation tag mutant collection. In such mutants, tagged genes are overexpressed by a strong 35S enhancer adjacent to the natural promoter, resulting in a dominant gain-of-function phenotype. We previously identified several of these mutants on which the aphid Myzus persicae showed a reduced population development compared with wild type. In the present study we show that the gene responsible for the phenotype of one of the mutants is At5g65040 and named this gene Increased Resistance to Myzus persicae 1 (IRM1). Overexpression of the cloned IRM1 gene conferred a phenotype identical to that of the original mutant. Conversely, an IRM1 knockout mutant promoted aphid population development compared to the wild type. We performed Electrical Penetration Graph analysis to investigate how probing and feeding behaviour of aphids was affected on plants that either overexpressed IRM1 or contained a knockout mutation in this gene. The EPG results indicated that the aphids encounter resistance factors while reaching for the phloem on the overexpressing line. This resistance mechanism also affected other aphid species and is suggested to be of mechanical nature. Interestingly, genetic variation for IRM1 expression in response to aphid attack was observed. Upon aphid attack the expression of IRM1 was initially (after 6 hours) induced in ecotype Wassilewskija followed by suppression. In Columbia-0, IRM1 expression was already suppressed six hours after the start of the infestation. The resistance conferred by the overexpression of IRM1 in A. thaliana trades off with plant growth.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere70914
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • green peach aphid
  • electrical penetration graph
  • phloem-feeding insects
  • myzus-persicae
  • plant defense
  • probing behavior
  • vascular plants
  • xylem ingestion
  • responses
  • activation


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