Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 34, Issue 8, pp 1013-1025

First online:

Potato, Solanum Tuberosum, Defense Against Colorado Potato Beetle, Leptinotarsa Decemlineata (Say): Microarray Gene Expression Profiling of Potato by Colorado Potato Beetle Regurgitant Treatment of Wounded Leaves

  • Susan D. LawrenceAffiliated withInvasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Lab, USDA—ARS Email author 
  • , Nicole G. NovakAffiliated withInvasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Lab, USDA—ARS
  • , Chelsea J.-T. JuAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta
  • , Janice E. K. CookeAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta

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Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is a leading pest of solanaceous plants. Despite the economic importance of this pest, surprisingly few studies have been carried out to characterize its molecular interaction with the potato plant. In particular, little is known about the effect of CPB elicitors on gene expression associated with the plant’s defense response. In order to discover putative CPB elicitor-responsive genes, the TIGR 11,421 EST Solanaceae microarray was used to identify genes that are differentially expressed in response to the addition of CPB regurgitant to wounded potato leaves. By applying a cutoff corresponding to an adjusted P-value of <0.01 and a fold change of >1.5 or <0.67, we found that 73 of these genes are induced by regurgitant treatment of wounded leaves when compared to wounding alone, whereas 54 genes are repressed by this treatment. This gene set likely includes regurgitant-responsive genes as well as wounding-responsive genes whose expression patterns are further enhanced by the presence of regurgitant. Real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to validate differential expression by regurgitant treatment for five of these genes. In general, genes that encoded proteins involved in secondary metabolism and stress were induced by regurgitant; genes associated with photosynthesis were repressed. One induced gene that encodes aromatic amino acid decarboxylase is responsible for synthesis of the precursor of 2-phenylethanol. This is significant because 2-phenylethanol is recognized by the CPB predator Perillus bioculatis. In addition, three of the 16 type 1 and type 2 proteinase inhibitor clones present on the potato microarray were repressed by application of CPB regurgitant to wounded leaves. Given that proteinase inhibitors are known to interfere with digestion of proteins in the insect midgut, repression of these proteinase inhibitors by CPB may inhibit this component of the plant’s defense arsenal. These data suggest that beyond the wound response, CPB elicitors play a role in mediating the plant/insect interaction.


Colorado potato beetle Herbivore Plant/insect interaction Potato Real-time PCR Regurgitant