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Whitefly hijacks a plant detoxification gene that neutralizes plant toxins
Monday, 2021/04/05 | 08:25:11

Jixing Xia, Zhaojiang Guo, Zezhong Yang, Haolin Han, Shaoli Wang, Haifeng Xu, Xin Yang, Fengshan Yang, Qingjun Wu, Wen Xie, Xuguo Zhou, Wannes Dermauw, Ted C.J. Turlings, Youjun Zhang

Cell J., Vol 184; Issue 7: 1693-1701, April 01, 2021

Highlights

Many plants contain phenolic glycosides that are toxic for insect herbivores

Whitefly carries a plant-derived phenolic glucoside malonyltransferase gene BtPMaT1

BtPMaT1 enables whiteflies to neutralize phenolic glycosides in host plants

Plant-mediated silencing of BtPMaT1 confers tomato full resistance to whiteflies

Summary

Plants protect themselves with a vast array of toxic secondary metabolites, yet most plants serve as food for insects. The evolutionary processes that allow herbivorous insects to resist plant defenses remain largely unknown. The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a cosmopolitan, highly polyphagous agricultural pest that vectors several serious plant pathogenic viruses and is an excellent model to probe the molecular mechanisms involved in overcoming plant defenses. Here, we show that, through an exceptional horizontal gene transfer event, the whitefly has acquired the plant-derived phenolic glucoside malonyltransferase gene BtPMaT1. This gene enables whiteflies to neutralize phenolic glucosides. This was confirmed by genetically transforming tomato plants to produce small interfering RNAs that silence BtPMaT1, thus impairing the whiteflies’ detoxification ability. These findings reveal an evolutionary scenario whereby herbivores harness the genetic toolkit of their host plants to develop resistance to plant defenses and how this can be exploited for crop protection.

 

See: https://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(21)00164-1?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0092867421001641%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

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