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Plant Physiol. 2004 Jan;134(1):420-31. Epub 2003 Dec 30.

Transcriptional regulation of sorghum defense determinants against a phloem-feeding aphid.

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  • 1Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA. ksalzman@tamu.edu

Abstract

When attacked by a phloem-feeding greenbug aphid (Schizaphis graminum), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor) activates jasmonic acid (JA)- and salicylic acid (SA)-regulated genes, as well as genes outside known wounding and SA signaling pathways. A collection of 672 cDNAs was obtained by differential subtraction with cDNAs prepared from sorghum seedlings infested by greenbug aphids and those from uninfested seedlings. Subsequent expression profiling using DNA microarray and northern-blot analyses identified 82 transcript types from this collection responsive to greenbug feeding, methyl jasmonate (MeJA), or SA application. DNA sequencing analyses indicated that these encoded proteins functioning in direct defense, defense signaling, oxidative burst, secondary metabolism, abiotic stress, cell maintenance, and photosynthesis, as well as proteins of unknown function. In response to insect feeding, sorghum increased transcript abundance of numerous defense genes, with some SA-dependent pathogenesis-related genes responding to greenbug more strongly than to SA. In contrast, only weak induction of MeJA-regulated defense genes was observed after greenbug treatment. However, infestation tests confirmed that JA-regulated pathways were effective in plant defense against greenbugs. Activation of certain transcripts exclusively by greenbug infestation was observed, and may represent unique signal transduction events independent of JA- and SA-regulated pathways. Results indicate that plants coordinately regulate defense gene expression when attacked by phloem-feeding aphids, but also suggest that aphids are able to avoid triggering activation of some otherwise potentially effective plant defensive machinery, possibly through their particular mode of feeding.

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