Symbiont-mediated adaptation by planthoppers and leafhoppers to resistant rice varieties

J.B. Ferrater, P.W. de Jong, M. Dicke, Y.H. Chen, F.G. Horgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


For over 50 years, host plant resistance has been the principal focus of public research to reduce planthopper and leafhopper damage to rice in Asia. Several resistance genes have been identified from native varieties and wild rice species, and some of these have been incorporated into high-yielding rice varieties through conventional breeding. However, adaptation by hoppers to resistant rice has been phenomenally rapid, and hopper populations with virulence against several resistance genes are now widespread. Directional genetic selection for virulent hoppers seems unlikely given the rapid pace of adaptation reported from field and laboratory studies. Among the alternative explanations for rapid hopper adaptation are changes (genetic, epigenetic, or community structure) in endosymbiont communities that become advantageous for planthoppers and leafhoppers that feed on resistant rice varieties. This review examines the nature of these symbiont communities and their functions in planthoppers and leafhoppers—focusing on their likely roles in mediating adaptation to plant resistance. Evidence from a small number of experimental studies suggests that bacterial and eukaryotic (including yeast-like) symbionts can determine or mediate hopper virulence on rice plants and that symbiont functions could change over successive generations of selection on both resistant and susceptible plants. The review highlights the potential complexity of rice hopper–symbiont interactions and calls for a more careful choice of research materials and methods to help reduce this complexity. Finally, the consequences of symbiont-mediated virulence adaptation for future rice breeding programs are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-605
JournalArthropod-Plant Interactions
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • nilaparvata-lugens stal
  • yeast-like symbiote
  • sogatella-furcifera horvath
  • laodelphax-striatellus homoptera
  • nephotettix-cincticeps uhler
  • oryza-sativa l.
  • brown planthopper
  • whitebacked planthopper
  • histological observations
  • phylogenetic position


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