(E)-β-Farnesene synthase genes affect aphid (Myzus persicae) infestation in tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum)
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Aphids are major agricultural pests which cause significant yield losses of the crop plants each year. (E)-β-farnesene (EβF) is the alarm pheromone involved in the chemical communication between aphids and particularly in the avoidance of predation. In the present study, two EβF synthase genes were isolated from sweet wormwood and designated as AaβFS1 and AaβFS2, respectively. Overexpression of AaβFS1 or AaβFS2 in tobacco plants resulted in the emission of EβF ranging from 1.55 to 4.65 ng/day/g fresh tissues. Tritrophic interactions involving the peach aphids (Myzus persicae), predatory lacewings (Chrysopa septempunctata) demonstrated that the transgenic tobacco expressing AaβFS1 and AaβFS2 could repel peach aphids, but not as strongly as expected. However, AaβFS1 and AaβFS2 lines exhibited strong and statistically significant attraction to lacewings. Further experiments combining aphids and lacewing larvae in an octagon arrangement showed transgenic tobacco plants could repel aphids and attract lacewing larvae, thus minimizing aphid infestation. Therefore, we demonstrated a potentially valuable strategy of using EβF synthase genes from sweet wormwood for aphid control in tobacco or other economic important crops in an environmentally benign way.
KeywordsSweet wormwood (E)-β-Farnesene synthase Transgenic tobacco Aphid Lacewing
This project are partly funded by the Research Initiative on Development of Disease and Insect Resistance Transgenic Wheat Plants (2008ZX08002-001) supported by the Chinese Government and Natural Science Foundation of China. Rothamsted Research receives grant-aided support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) of the UK.
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