What trick the pest wheat aphid uses to “trick” the wheat immune response

Wheat dipter aphid Courtesy of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Recently, the Innovation Team for Monitoring and Control of Food Crop Pests in the Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences found that the wheat aphid saliva protein effector Sg2204 can inhibit the wheat defense response, thereby promoting the host adaptability of wheat aphid. The results were published in the Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Wheat aphid is a major pest in wheat production, which seriously threatens wheat production and food security, and cultivating insect-resistant wheat varieties is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent aphids from becoming pests. However, due to the lack of understanding of the wheat aphid-wheat interaction mechanism, there has been a long-term shortage of aphid-resistant varieties in wheat production.

In this study, 76 salivary proteins were successfully identified through the combined analysis of the salivary tract group and salivary protein profile of aphids, of which the protein Sg2204 with unknown function was highly expressed in the process of aphids feeding wheat, and the transient expression of Sg2204 in tobacco and wheat leaves could inhibit the plant immune response. The survival rate, aphid yield and phloem feeding time of wheat digemines after the leaves of wheat with the expression of Sg2204 were significantly increased.

On the contrary, after using RNA interference technology to inhibit the expression of this gene, aphids can induce stronger plant defense responses and lead to a significant decrease in their host adaptability, which further confirms the important role of Sg2204 in inhibiting wheat defense responses and its application potential as a target gene in wheat aphid prevention and control.

It was found that the Sg2204 homologous protein of Hagi grass valley aphid, corn aphid, pea aphid and peach aphid can inhibit the plant defense response, and interfering with the expression of this gene can lead to a significant reduction in the adaptability of aphid hosts, indicating that the protein has functional conservatism in different aphids as an effector.

This study lays a foundation for the analysis of the pathogenic mechanism of wheat aphids, and provides new ideas for the research and development of new aphid prevention and control technologies and the cultivation of aphid-resistant wheat varieties. The research has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the China Donation CABI Development Fund. (Source: China Science Daily Li Chen)

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