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Plant Signal Behav. 2009 Oct;4(10):992-5. Epub 2009 Oct 30.

Bemisia tabaci-infested tomato plants show a phase-specific pattern of photosynthetic gene expression indicative of disrupted electron flow leading to photo-oxidation and plant death.

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  • 1Unidad de Biotecnología e Ingeniería Genética de Plantas, (Cinvestav-Campus Guanajuato), Km 9.6 del Libramiento Norte Carretera Irapuato-León, Irapuato, Gto., México. jdelano@ira.cinvestav.mx


A suppression-subtractive-hybridization (SSH) strategy led to the identification of several genes whose expression was differentially modified in response to different larval phases present during the infestation process of tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum) by virus-free whitefly Bemisia tabaci (Bt). The findings regarding photosynthetic gene expression were in accordance to previous studies reporting altered patterns of expression as a result of insect herbivory. However, the examination, in this study, of four stages of larval Bt development permitted the detection of phase-dependent changes in gene expression which appeared to target specific photosynthetic complexes. Thus, an upregulation of photosystem II genes in the latter two phases of Bt development contrasted with a general repression of genes belonging to the three other photosynthetic complexes, in addition to a number of genes coding for proteins associated with the oxygen evolving complex and the Calvin cycle. We propose that the contrasting pattern of expression led to an over-excitation of PSII and consequent oxidative damage, as suggested by the concomitant upregulation of oxidative stress genes, and could have contributed to the wide-spread necrosis observed in Bt-infested tomato plants at late stages of the plant-insect interaction.

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