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PLoS One. 2018 Aug 1;13(8):e0201670. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0201670. eCollection 2018.

Transcriptome and metabolome analysis reveal candidate genes and biochemicals involved in tea geometrid defense in Camellia sinensis.

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Key Laboratory of Tea Biology and Resources Utilization, Ministry of Agriculture, National Center for Tea Improvement, Tea Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou, China.
Key Laboratory of Horticulture Plant Biology, College of Horticulture and Forestry Sciences, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China.


Tea plant (Camellia sinensis (L) O. Kuntze) respond to herbivore attack through large changes in defense related metabolism and gene expression. Ectropis oblique (Prout) is one of the most devastating insects that feed on tea leaves and tender buds, which can cause severe production loss and deteriorate the quality of tea. To elucidate the biochemicals and molecular mechanism of defense against tea geometrid (TG), transcriptome and metabolome of TG interaction with susceptible (SG) and resistance (RG) tea genotypes were analyzed by using UPLC-Q-TOF-MS, GC-MS, and RNA-seq technologies. This revealed that jasmonic acid was highly induced in RG, following a plethora of secondary metabolites involved in defense against TG could be induced by jasmonic acid signaling pathway. However, the constitutively present of salicylic acid in SG might be a suppressor of jasmonate signaling and thus misdirect tea plants against TG. Furthermore, flavonoids and terpenoids biosynthesis pathways were highly activated in RG to constitute the chemical barrier on TG feeding behavior. In contrast, fructose and theanine, which can act as feeding stimulants were observed to highly accumulate in SG. Being present in the major hub, 39 transcription factors or protein kinases among putative candidates were identified as master regulators from protein-protein interaction network analysis. Together, the current study provides a comprehensive gene expression and metabolite profiles, which can shed new insights into the molecular mechanism of tea defense against TG. The candidate genes and specific metabolites identified in the present study can serve as a valuable resource for unraveling the possible defense mechanism of plants against various biotic stresses.

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