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Plant Physiol. 2007 Feb;143(2):849-65. Epub 2006 Dec 22.

Arabidopsis transcriptome changes in response to phloem-feeding silverleaf whitefly nymphs. Similarities and distinctions in responses to aphids.

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Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, Center for Plant Cell Biology, University of California, Riverside, California 92521-0124, USA.


Phloem-feeding pests cause extensive crop damage throughout the world, yet little is understood about how plants perceive and defend themselves from these threats. The silverleaf whitefly (SLWF; Bemisia tabaci type B) is a good model for studying phloem-feeding insect-plant interactions, as SLWF nymphs cause little wounding and have a long, continuous interaction with the plant. Using the Affymetrix ATH1 GeneChip to monitor the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) transcriptome, 700 transcripts were found to be up-regulated and 556 down-regulated by SLWF nymphs. Closer examination of the regulation of secondary metabolite (glucosinolate) and defense pathway genes after SLWF-instar feeding shows that responses were qualitatively and quantitatively different from chewing insects and aphids. In addition to the RNA profile distinctions, analysis of SLWF performance on wild-type and phytoalexin-deficient4 (pad4) mutants suggests aphid and SLWF interactions with Arabidopsis were distinct. While pad4-1 mutants were more susceptible to aphids, SLWF development on pad4-1 and wild-type plants was similar. Furthermore, although jasmonic acid genes were repressed and salicylic acid-regulated genes were induced after SLWF feeding, cytological staining of SLWF-infested tissue showed that pathogen defenses, such as localized cell death and hydrogen peroxide accumulation, were not observed. Like aphid and fungal pathogens, callose synthase gene RNAs accumulated and callose deposition was observed in SLWF-infested tissue. These results provide a more comprehensive understanding of phloem-feeding insect-plant interactions and distinguish SLWF global responses.

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