Terpene synthases in cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and their contribution to herbivore-induced volatile terpenoid emission

Jun He, Francel Verstappen, Ao Jiao, Marcel Dicke, Harro J. Bouwmeester, Iris F. Kappers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Terpenoids play important roles in flavour, pollinator attraction and defence of plants. In cucumber (Cucumis sativus) they are important components of the herbivore-induced plant volatile blend that attracts natural enemies of herbivores. We annotated the cucumber TERPENE SYNTHASE gene (CsTPS) family and characterized their involvement in the response towards herbivores with different feeding guilds using a combined molecular and biochemical approach. Transcripts of multiple CsTPS genes were upregulated in leaves upon herbivory and the products generated by the expressed proteins match the terpenoids recorded in the volatile blend released by herbivore-damaged leaves. Spatial and temporal analysis of the promoter activity of CsTPS genes showed that cell content-feeding spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) and thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) induced promoter activity of CsTPS9 and CsTPS19 within hours after initiation of infestation, while phloem-feeding aphids (Myzus persicae) induced CsTPS2 promoter activity. Our findings offer detailed insights into the involvement of the TPS gene family in the dynamics and fine-tuning of the emission of herbivore-induced plant volatiles in cucumber, and open a new avenue to understand molecular mechanisms that affect plant–herbivore interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)862-877
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Early online date19 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Aphids
  • circadian rhythm
  • cucumber (Cucumis sativus)
  • herbivore-induced terpenoids
  • spider mites
  • terpene synthases
  • thrips


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