Cotton is king: Bollworm regulates cotton metabolites to drive away cotton aphids

Cotton bollworms feed on cotton peaches. Courtesy of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Cotton aphids are harmful to cotton plants. Courtesy of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Recently, the cotton pest control and biosecurity team of the Cotton Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences analyzed the interaction between cotton bollworm and cotton aphid, and found that the cotton resistance defense response triggered by cotton bollworm affected the feeding behavior of the same host cotton aphid, resulting in a decline in the population of cotton aphids. The results were published in Pest Management Science.

Insect interactions are often accompanied by interspecific competition, especially between insects with the same plant host and ecological niches coexisting or overlapping. As two important agricultural pests on cotton, the ecological niches of cotton bollworm and cotton aphid are partially overlapping. At present, the study of the interaction between insects and plants has been widely carried out, but the study of plant-mediated interplay between insects is very limited.

Based on the ecological relationship of “cotton-cotton aphid-cotton bollworm”, the study used biology, ecology and omics techniques to analyze the interspecific relationship between cotton-mediated cotton bollworm and cotton aphid from different levels.

Through the analysis of the influence of cotton bollworm on the feeding behavior and population of cotton aphids after cotton infestation, it was found that cotton bollworm had a significant inhibitory effect on cotton aphid population after cotton infestation, indicating that cotton bollworm may have an effect on low-tolerance cotton aphids by stimulating plant resistance defense after cotton infestation.

Through transcriptomics and metabolomics analysis and metabolite screening, it was confirmed that bollworm inhibits the growth and development of cotton aphids by regulating changes in secondary metabolites in plants and leads to cotton aphid evasion.

The results elucidate the interaction between bollworm and cotton aphid, which lays a theoretical basis for the scientific formulation of ecological pest control strategies and the development and application of biologically derived metabolites.

The research was funded by the National Cotton Industry Technology System and the Science and Technology Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. (Source: China Science Daily Li Chen)

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