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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2012;50:339-57. doi: 10.1146/annurev-phyto-072910-095255. Epub 2012 May 29.

Gall midges (Hessian flies) as plant pathogens.

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Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2089, USA.


Gall midges constitute an important group of plant-parasitic insects. The Hessian fly (HF; Mayetiola destructor), the most investigated gall midge, was the first insect hypothesized to have a gene-for-gene interaction with its host plant, wheat (Triticum spp.). Recent investigations support that hypothesis. The minute larval mandibles appear to act in a manner that is analogous to nematode stylets and the haustoria of filamentous plant pathogens. Putative effector proteins are encoded by hundreds of genes and expressed in the HF larval salivary gland. Cultivar-specific resistance (R) genes mediate a highly localized plant reaction that prevents the survival of avirulent HF larvae. Fine-scale mapping of HF avirulence (Avr) genes provides further evidence of effector-triggered immunity (ETI) against HF in wheat. Taken together, these discoveries suggest that the HF, and other gall midges, may be considered biotrophic, or hemibiotrophic, plant pathogens, and they demonstrate the potential that the wheat-HF interaction has in the study of insect-induced plant gall formation.

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