Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions
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New and old articles on plant-insect-microbe interactions
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The chemical signatures underlying host plant discrimination by aphids

Sci Rep. 2017; 7: 8498. Published online 2017 Aug 17. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-07729-0 PMCID: PMC5561273

David P. Hopkins, Duncan D. Cameron, and Roger K. Butlin


The diversity of phytophagous insects is largely attributable to speciation involving shifts between host plants. These shifts are mediated by the close interaction between insects and plant metabolites. However, there has been limited progress in understanding the chemical signatures that underlie host preferences. We use the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) to address this problem. Host-associated races of pea aphid discriminate between plant species in race-specific ways. We combined metabolomic profiling of multiple plant species with behavioural tests on two A. pisum races, to identify metabolites that explain variation in either acceptance or discrimination. Candidate compounds were identified using tandem mass spectrometry. Our results reveal a small number of compounds that explain a large proportion of variation in the differential acceptability of plants to A. pisum races. Two of these were identified as L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine but it may be that metabolically-related compounds directly influence insect behaviour. The compounds implicated in differential acceptability were not related to the set correlated with general acceptability of plants to aphids, regardless of host race. Small changes in response to common metabolites may underlie host shifts. This study opens new opportunities for understanding the mechanistic basis of host discrimination and host shifts in insects.

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A viral protease relocalizes in the presence of the vector to promote vector performance

A viral protease relocalizes in the presence of the vector to promote vector performance | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it

Vector-borne pathogens influence host characteristics relevant to host–vector contact, increasing pathogen transmission and survival. Previously, we demonstrated that infection with Turnip mosaic virus, a member of one of the largest families of plant-infecting viruses, increases vector attraction and reproduction on infected hosts. These changes were due to a single viral protein, NIa-Pro. Here we show that NIa-Pro responds to the presence of the aphid vector during infection by relocalizing to the vacuole. Remarkably, vacuolar localization is required for NIa-Pro’s ability to enhance aphid reproduction on host plants, vacuole localization disappears when aphids are removed, and this phenomenon occurs for another potyvirus, Potato virus Y, suggesting a conserved role for the protein in vector–host interactions. Taken together, these results suggest that potyviruses dynamically respond to the presence of their vectors, promoting insect performance and transmission only when needed.

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Frontiers | Modulation of Legume Defense Signaling Pathways by Native and Non-native Pea Aphid Clones | Plant Biotic Interactions

The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is a complex of at least 15 genetically different host races that are native to specific legume plants, but can all develop on the universal host plant Vicia faba. Despite much research it is still unclear why pea aphid host races (biotypes) are able to colonize their native hosts while other host races are not. All aphids penetrate the plant and salivate into plant cells when they test plant suitability. Thus plants might react differently to the various pea aphid host races. To find out whether legume species vary in their defense responses to different pea aphid host races, we measured the amounts of salicylic acid (SA), the jasmonic acid-isoleucine conjugate (JA-Ile), other jasmonate precursors and derivatives, and abscisic acid (ABA) in four different species (Medicago sativa, Trifolium pratense, Pisum sativum, V. faba) after infestation by native and non-native pea aphid clones of various host races. Additionally, we assessed the performance of the clones on the four plant species. On M. sativa and T. pratense, non-native clones that were barely able to survive or reproduce, triggered a strong SA and JA-Ile response, whereas infestation with native clones led to lower levels of both phytohormones. On P. sativum, non-native clones, which survived or reproduced to a certain extent, induced fluctuating SA and JA-Ile levels, whereas the native clone triggered only a weak SA and JA-Ile response. On the universal host V. faba all aphid clones triggered only low SA levels initially, but induced clone-specific patterns of SA and JA-Ile later on. The levels of the active JA-Ile conjugate and of the other JA-pathway metabolites measured showed in many cases similar patterns, suggesting that the reduction in JA signaling was due to an effect upstream of OPDA. ABA levels were downregulated in all aphid clone-plant combinations and were therefore probably not decisive factors for aphid-plant compatibility. Our results suggest that A. pisum clones manipulate plant-defense signaling to their own advantage, and perform better on their native hosts due to their ability to modulate the SA- and JA-defense signaling pathways.
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An aphid effector targets trafficking protein VPS52 in a host-specific manner to promote virulence

Plant- and animal-feeding insects secrete saliva inside their hosts, containing effectors, which may promote nutrient release and suppress immunity. Although for plant pathogenic microbes it is well established that effectors target host proteins to modulate host cell processes and promote disease, the host cell targets of herbivorous insects remain elusive. Here, we show that the existing plant pathogenic microbe effector paradigm can be extended to herbivorous insects in that effector-target interactions inside host cells modify critical host processes to promote plant susceptibility. We showed that the effector Mp1 from Myzus persicae associates with the host Vacuolar-Protein-Sorting-Associated Protein 52 (VPS52). Using natural variants we provide a strong link between effector virulence activity and association with VPS52, and show that the association is highly specific to Myzus persicae-host interactions. Also, co-expression of Mp1, but not Mp1-like variants, specifically with host VPS52s resulted in effector relocalization to vesicle-like structures that associate with prevacuolar compartments. We show that high VPS52 levels negatively impact virulence, and that aphids are able to reduce VPS52 levels during infestation, indicating that VPS52 is an important virulence target. Our work is an important step forward in understanding, at the molecular level, how a major agricultural pest promotes susceptibility during infestation of crop plants. We give evidence that an herbivorous insect employs effectors that interact with host proteins as part of an effective virulence strategy, and that these effectors likely function in a species-specific manner.
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Frontiers | Transcriptome Analysis of Green Peach Aphid (Myzus persicae): Insight into Developmental Regulation and Inter-Species Divergence | Plant Biotic Interactions

Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) and pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) are two phylogenetically closely related agricultural pests. While pea aphid is restricted to Fabaceae, green peach aphid feeds on hundreds of plant species from more than 40 families. Transcriptome comparison could shed light on the genetic factors underlying the difference in host range between the two species. Furthermore, a large scale study contrasting gene expression between immature nymphs and fully developed adult aphids would fill a previous knowledge gap. Here, we obtained transcriptomic sequences of green peach aphid nymphs and adults, respectively, using Illumina sequencing technology. A total of 2,244 genes were found to be differentially expressed between the two developmental stages, many of which were associated with detoxification, hormone production, cuticle formation, metabolism, food digestion and absorption. When searched against publically available pea aphid mRNA sequences, 13,752 unigenes were found to have no homologous counterparts. Interestingly, many of these unigenes that could be annotated in other databases were involved in the “xenobiotics biodegradation and metabolism” pathway, suggesting the two aphids differ in their adaptation to secondary metabolites of host plants. Conversely, 3,989 orthologous gene pairs between the two species were subjected to calculations of synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions, and 148 of the genes potentially evolved in response to positive selection. Some of these genes were predicted to be associated with insect-plant interactions. Our study has revealed certain molecular events related to aphid development, and provided some insight into biological variations in two aphid species, possibly as a result of host plant adaptation.
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Comparative Analysis of RNAi-Based Methods to Down-Regulate Expression of Two Genes Expressed at Different Levels in Myzus persicae

Comparative Analysis of RNAi-Based Methods to Down-Regulate Expression of Two Genes Expressed at Different Levels in Myzus persicae | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it
With the increasing availability of aphid genomic data, it is necessary to develop robust functional validation methods to evaluate the role of specific aphid genes. This work represents the first study in which five different techniques, all based on RNA interference and on oral acquisition of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), were developed to silence two genes, ALY and Eph, potentially involved in polerovirus transmission by aphids. Efficient silencing of only Eph transcripts, which are less abundant than those of ALY, could be achieved by feeding aphids on transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana expressing an RNA hairpin targeting Eph, on Nicotiana benthamiana infected with a Tobacco rattle virus (TRV)-Eph recombinant virus, or on in vitro-synthesized Eph-targeting dsRNA. These experiments showed that the silencing efficiency may differ greatly between genes and that aphid gut cells seem to be preferentially affected by the silencing mechanism after oral acquisition of dsRNA. In addition, the use of plants infected with recombinant TRV proved to be a promising technique to silence aphid genes as it does not require plant transformation. This work highlights the need to pursue development of innovative strategies to reproducibly achieve reduction of expression of aphid genes.
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Frontiers | Optimization of Agroinfiltration in Pisum sativum Provides a New Tool for Studying the Salivary Protein Functions in the Pea Aphid Complex | Plant Biotic Interactions

Frontiers | Optimization of Agroinfiltration in Pisum sativum Provides a New Tool for Studying the Salivary Protein Functions in the Pea Aphid Complex | Plant Biotic Interactions | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it
Aphids are piercing-sucking insect pests and feed on phloem sap. During feeding, aphids inject a battery of salivary proteins into host plant. Some of these proteins function like effectors of microbial pathogens and influence the outcome of plant-aphid interactions. The pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) is the model aphid and encompasses multiple biotypes each specialized to one or a few legume species, providing an opportunity to investigate the underlying mechanisms of the compatibility between plants and aphid biotypes. We aim to identify the aphid factors that determine the compatibility with host plants, hence involved in the host plant specialization process, and hypothesize that salivary proteins are one of those factors. Agrobacterium-mediated transient gene expression is a powerful tool to perform functional analyses of effector (salivary) proteins in plants. However, the tool was not established for the legume species that A. pisum feeds on. Thus, we decided to optimize the method for legume plants to facilitate the functional analyses of A. pisum salivary proteins. We screened a range of cultivars of pea (Pisum sativum) and alfalfa (Medicago sativa). None of the M. sativa cultivars was suitable for agroinfiltration under the tested conditions; however, we established a protocol for efficient transient gene expression in two cultivars of P. sativum, ZP1109 and ZP1130, using A. tumefaciens AGL-1 strain and the pEAQ-HT-DEST1 vector. We confirmed that the genes are expressed from three to ten days post-infiltration and that aphid lines of the pea adapted biotype fed and reproduced on these two cultivars while lines of alfalfa and clover biotypes did not. Thus, the pea biotype recognizes these two cultivars as typical pea plants. By using a combination of ZP1109 and an A. pisum line, we defined an agroinfiltration procedure to examine the effect of in planta expression of selected salivary proteins on A. pisum fitness and demonstrated that transient expression of one candidate salivary gene increased the fecundity of the aphids. This result confirms that the agroinfiltration can be used to perform functional analyses of salivary proteins in P. sativum and consequently to study the molecular mechanisms underlying host specialization in the pea aphid complex.
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Frontiers | Vat, an Amazing Gene Conferring Resistance to Aphids and Viruses They Carry: From Molecular Structure to Field Effects | Plant Biotic Interactions

We review half a century of research on Cucumis melo resistance to Aphis gossypii from molecular to field levels. The Vat gene is unique in conferring resistance to both A. gossypii and the viruses it transmits. This double phenotype is aphid clone-dependent and has been observed in 25 melon accessions, mostly from Asia. It is controlled by a cluster of genes including CC-NLR, which has been characterized in detail. Copy-number polymorphisms (for the whole gene and for a domain that stands out in the LLR region) and single-nucleotide polymorphisms have been identified in the Vat cluster. The role of these polymorphisms in plant aphid/interactions remains unclear. The Vat gene structure suggests a functioning with separate recognition and response phases. During the recognition phase, the VAT protein is thought to interact (likely indirectly) with an aphid effector introduced during cell puncture by the aphid. A few hours later, several miRNAs are upregulated in Vat plants. Peroxidase activity increases, and callose and lignin are deposited in the walls of the cells adjacent to the stylet path, disturbing aphid behavior. In aphids feeding on Vat plants, Piwi-interacting RNA-like sequences are abundant and the levels of other miRNAs are modified. At the plant level, resistance to aphids is quantitative (aphids escape the plant and display low rates of reproduction). Resistance to viruses is qualitative and local. Durability of NLR genes is highly variable. A. gossypii clones are adapted to Vat resistance, either by introducing a new effector that interferes with the deployment of plant defenses, or by adapting to the defenses it triggered. Viruses transmitted in a non-persistent manner cannot adapt to Vat resistance. At population level, Vat reduces aphid density and genetic diversity. The durability of Vat resistance to A. gossypii populations depends strongly on the agro-ecosystem, including, in particular, the presence of other cucurbit crops serving as alternative hosts for adapted clones in fall and winter. At the crop level, Vat resistance decreases the intensity of Cucumber Mosaic Virus (CMV) and Cucurbit aphid-borne yellows virus (CABYV) epidemics. The durability of resistance to CABYV could potentially be increased if combined with Vat resistance.
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Symbiont-mediated RNA interference in insects

Symbiont-mediated RNA interference in insects | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it
Abstract

RNA interference (RNAi) methods for insects are often limited by problems with double-stranded (ds) RNA delivery, which restricts reverse genetics studies and the development of RNAi-based biocides. We therefore delegated to insect symbiotic bacteria the task of: (i) constitutive dsRNA synthesis and (ii) trauma-free delivery. RNaseIII-deficient, dsRNA-expressing bacterial strains were created from the symbionts of two very diverse pest species: a long-lived blood-sucking bug, Rhodnius prolixus, and a short-lived globally invasive polyphagous agricultural pest, western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis). When ingested, the manipulated bacteria colonized the insects, successfully competed with the wild-type microflora, and sustainably mediated systemic knockdown phenotypes that were horizontally transmissible. This represents a significant advance in the ability to deliver RNAi, potentially to a large range of non-model insects.

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Hybridization of powdery mildew strains gives rise to pathogens on novel agricultural crop species : Nature Genetics : Nature Publishing Group

Hybridization of powdery mildew strains gives rise to pathogens on novel agricultural crop species : Nature Genetics : Nature Publishing Group | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it

Beat Keller, Thomas Wicker and colleagues compare the genomes of 46 isolates of powdery mildew, Blumeria graminis. They find that B. graminis f. sp. triticale, a pathogen growing on triticale (a wheat [times] rye hybrid plant), is a hybrid of B.


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Aphids Pick Their Poison: Selective Sequestration of Plant Chemicals Affects Host Plant Use in a Specialist Herbivore - Online First - Springer

Aphids Pick Their Poison: Selective Sequestration of Plant Chemicals Affects Host Plant Use in a Specialist Herbivore - Online First - Springer | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it

In some plant-insect interactions, specialist herbivores exploit the chemical defenses of their food plant to their own advantage. Brassica plants produce glucosinolates that are broken down into defensive toxins when tissue is damaged, but the specialist aphid, Brevicoryne brassicae, uses these chemicals against its own natural enemies by becoming a “walking mustard-oil bomb”. Analysis of glucosinolate concentrations in plant tissue and associated aphid colonies reveals that not only do aphids sequester glucosinolates, but they do so selectively. Aphids specifically accumulate sinigrin to high concentrations while preferentially excreting a structurally similar glucosinolate, progoitrin. Surveys of aphid infestation in wild populations of Brassica oleracea show that this pattern of sequestration and excretion maps onto host plant use. The probability of aphid infestation decreases with increasing concentrations of progoitrin in plants. Brassica brassicae, therefore, appear to select among food plants according to plant secondary metabolite profiles, and selectively store only some compounds that are used against their own enemies. The results demonstrate chemical and behavioral mechanisms that help to explain evidence of geographic patterns and evolutionary dynamics in Brassica-aphid interactions.

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Recent Advances in the Integrative Nutrition of Arthropods - Annual Review of Entomology, 60(1):293

In this review we highlight recent advances in four areas in which nutrition shapes the relationships between organisms: between plants and herbivores, between hosts and their microbiota, between individuals within groups and societies, and between species within food webs. We demonstrate that taking an explicitly multidimensional view of nutrition and employing the logic of the geometric framework for nutrition provide novel insights and offer a means of integration across different levels of organization, from individuals to ecosystems.

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Lineage-specific patterns of genome deterioration in obligate symbionts of sharpshooter leafhoppers

Plant sap-feeding insects (Hemiptera) rely on obligate bacterial symbionts that provision nutrients. Some of these symbionts are ancient and have evolved tiny genomes, while others are younger and retain larger, dynamic genomes. Baumannia cicadellinicola, an obligate symbiont of sharpshooter leafhoppers, is derived from a relatively recent symbiont replacement. To better understand evolutionary decay of genomes, we compared Baumannia from three host species. A newly sequenced genome for Baumannia from the green sharpshooter (B-GSS) was compared to genomes of Baumannia from the blue-green sharpshooter (B-BGSS, 759 kilobases [kb]) and of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (B-GWSS, 680 kb). B-GSS has the smallest Baumannia genome sequenced to date (633 kb), with only three unique genes, all involved in membrane function. It has lost nearly all pathways involved in vitamin and cofactor synthesis, as well as amino acid biosynthetic pathways that are redundant with pathways of the host or the symbiotic partner, Sulcia muelleri. The entire biosynthetic pathway for methionine is eliminated, suggesting that methionine has become a dietary requirement for hosts. B-GSS and B-BGSS share 33 genes involved in bacterial functions (e.g., cell division, membrane synthesis, metabolite transport, etc.) that are lost from the more distantly related B-GWSS and most other tiny genome symbionts. Finally, pairwise divergence estimates indicate that B-GSS has experienced a lineage-specific increase in substitution rates. This increase correlates with accelerated protein-level changes and widespread gene loss. Thus, the mode and tempo of genome reduction vary widely among symbiont lineages and result in wide variation in metabolic capabilities across hosts.

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Ultrastructure of compatible and incompatible interactions in phloem sieve elements during the stylet penetration by cotton aphids in melon. - PubMed - NCBI

Resistance of the melon line TGR-1551 to the aphid Aphis gossypii is based on preventing aphids from ingesting phloem sap. In electrical penetration graphs (EPGs), this resistance has been characterized with A. gossypii showing unusually long phloem salivation periods (waveform E1) mostly followed by pathway activities (waveform C) or if followed by phloem ingestion (waveform E2), ingestion was not sustained for more than 10 minutes. Stylectomy with aphids on susceptible and resistant plants was performed during EPG recording while the stylet tips were phloem inserted. This was followed by dissection of the penetrated leaf section, plant tissue fixation, resin embedding, and ultra thin sectioning for transmission electron microscopic observation in order to study the resistance mechanism in the TGR. The most obvious aspect appeared to be the coagulation of phloem proteins inside the stylet canals and the punctured sieve elements. Stylets of five aphids per genotype were amputated during sieve element (SE) salivation (E1) and SE ingestion (E2). Cross-sections of stylet bundles in susceptible melon plants showed that the contents of the stylet canals were totally clear and also, no coagulated phloem proteins occurred in their punctured sieve elements. In contrast, electron-dense coagulations were found in both locations in the resistant plants. Due to calcium binding, aphid saliva has been hypothesized to play an essential role in preventing/suppressing such coagulations that cause occlusion of sieves plate and in the food canal of the aphid's stylets. Doubts about this role of E1 salivation are discussed on the basis of our results. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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Aphid heritable symbiont exploits defensive mutualism

ABSTRACT Insects and other animals commonly form symbioses with heritable bacteria, which can exert large influences on host biology and ecology. The pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, is a model for studying effects of infection with heritable facultative symbionts (HFS) and each of its seven common HFS species have been reported to provide resistance to biotic or abiotic stresses. However, one common HFS, called X-type, rarely occurs as a single infection in field populations and instead typically superinfects individual aphids with Hamiltonella defensa, another HFS that protects aphids against attack by parasitic wasps. Using experimental aphid lines comprised of all possible infection combinations in a uniform aphid genotype, we investigated whether the most common strain of X-type provides any of the established benefits associated with aphid HFS as a single infection or superinfection with H. defensa. We found that X-type does not confer protection to any tested threats, including parasitoid wasps, fungal pathogens, or thermal stress. Instead, component fitness assays identified large costs associated with X-type infection; costs which were ameliorated in superinfected aphids. Together these findings suggest that X-type exploits the aphid/H. defensa mutualism and is maintained primarily as a superinfection by ‘hitchhiking' via the mutualistic benefits provided by another HFS. Exploitative symbionts potentially restrict the functions and distributions of mutualistic symbioses with effects that extend to other community members. Importance Maternally-transmitted bacterial symbionts are widespread and can have major impacts on arthropod biology, including insects of medical and agricultural importance. Given that host and symbiont fitness are tightly linked, inherited symbionts can spread within host populations by providing beneficial services. Many insects, however, are frequently infected with multiple heritable symbionts species providing potential alternative routes of symbiont maintenance. Here we show that a common pea aphid symbiont called X-type likely employs an exploitative strategy of ‘hitchhiking’ off the benefits of a protective symbiont, Hamiltonella. Infection with X-type provides none of the benefits conferred by other aphid symbionts and instead results in large fitness costs; costs lessened by co-infection with Hamiltonella. These findings are corroborated by natural infections in field populations where X-type is mostly found co-infecting aphids with Hamiltonella. Exploitative symbionts may be common in hosts with communities of heritable symbionts and serve to hasten the breakdown of mutualisms.
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Whole genome sequence of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines

Whole genome sequence of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it
Aphids are emerging as model organisms for both basic and applied research. Of the 5000 estimated species, only three aphids have published whole genome sequences: the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum, the Russian wheat aphid, Diuraphis noxia, and the green peach aphid, Myzus persicae. We present the whole genome sequence of a fourth aphid, the soybean aphid (Aphis glycines), which is an extreme specialist and an important invasive pest of soybean (Glycine max). The availability of genomic resources is important to establish effective and sustainable pest control, as well as to expand our understanding of aphid evolution. We generated a 302.9 Mbp draft genome assembly for Ap. glycines using a hybrid sequencing approach. This assembly shows high completeness with 19,182 predicted genes, 92% of known Ap. glycines transcripts mapping to contigs, and substantial continuity with a scaffold N50 of 174,505 bp. The assembly represents 95.5% of the predicted genome size of 317.1 Mbp based on flow cytometry. Ap. glycines contains the smallest known aphid genome to date, based on updated genome sizes for 19 aphid species. The repetitive DNA content of the Ap. glycines genome assembly (81.6 Mbp or 26.94% of the 302.9 Mbp assembly) shows a reduction in the number of classified transposable elements compared to Ac. pisum, and likely contributes to the small estimated genome size. We include comparative analyses of gene families related to host-specificity (cytochrome P450's and effectors), which may be important in Ap. glycines evolution. This Ap. glycines draft genome sequence will provide a resource for the study of aphid genome evolution, their interaction with host plants, and candidate genes for novel insect control methods.
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Symbiont Diversity of Aphis (Toxoptera) citricidus (Hemiptera: Aphididae) as Influenced by Host Plants

Aphids are well known for their association with endosymbiont bacteria. Almost all aphids harbor Buchnera aphidicola as an obligate symbiont and several other bacteria as facultative symbionts. Associations of facultative symbionts and aphids are quite variable in terms of diversity and prevalence across aphid species. Facultative symbionts can have a major impact on aphid bioecological traits. A number of factors shape the outcome of the facultative symbiont-aphid association, including aphid clone, bacterial genotype, geography, and host plant association. The effects of host plant on aphid-facultative symbiont associations are the least understood. We performed deep sequencing of the bacterial community associated with field populations of the oligophagous aphid Aphis (Toxoptera) citricidus collected from different host plants. We demonstrate that (i) A. citricidus has low symbiont diversity, (ii) symbiont diversity is affected by host plant, and (iii) host plants affect the relative abundance of the obligate symbiont Buchnera and an unknown genus of Enterobacteriaceae. Keywords
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An Immuno-Suppressive Aphid Saliva Protein Is Delivered into the Cytosol of Plant Mesophyll Cells During Feeding

Herbivore selection of plant hosts and plant responses to insect colonization have been subjects of intense investigations. A growing body of evidence suggests that, for successful colonization to occur, (effector/virulence) proteins in insect saliva must modulate plant defense responses to the benefit of the insect. A range of insect saliva proteins that modulate plant defense responses have been identified, but there is no direct evidence that these proteins are delivered into specific plant tissues and enter plant cells. Aphids and other sap-sucking insects of the order Hemiptera use their specialized mouthparts (stylets) to probe plant mesophyll cells until they reach the phloem cells for long-term feeding. Here, we show, by immunogold-labeling of ultrathin sections of aphid feeding sites, that an immuno-suppressive aphid effector localizes in the cytoplasm of mesophyll cells near aphid stylets but not in cells further away from aphid feeding sites. In contrast, another aphid effector protein localizes in the sheaths composed of gelling saliva that surround the aphid stylets. Thus, insects deliver effectors directly into plant tissue. Moreover, different aphid effectors locate extracellularly in the sheath saliva or are introduced into the cytoplasm of plant cells.
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Molecular basis and ecological relevance of aphid body colors

Highlights • Aphid body colors are determined by genetic and environmental factors. • Melanin, carotenoids and aphins are the primary pigments that determine aphid body coloration. • Aphid body colors and related phenotypes affect insect adaptability to various environments.
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Diversity in symbiont consortia in the pea aphid complex is associated with large phenotypic variation in the insect host.

Evolutionary Ecology 30, 925–941. doi:10.1007/s10682-016-9856-1. Abstract: Virtually all eukaryotes host microbial symbionts that influence their phenotype in many ways. In a host population, individuals may differ in their symbiotic complement in terms of symbiont species and strains. Hence, the combined expression of symbiont and host genotypes may generate a range of phenotypic diversity on which selection can operate and influence host population ecology and evolution. Here, we used the pea aphid to examine how the infection with various symbiotic complements contributes to pheno- typic diversity of this insect species. The pea aphid hosts an obligate symbiont (Buchnera aphidicola) and several secondary symbionts among which is Hamiltonella defensa. This secondary symbiont confers a protection against parasitoids but can also reduce the host’s longevity and fecundity. These phenotypic effects of H. defensa infection have been described for a small fraction of the pea aphid complex which encompasses multiple plant- specialized biotypes. In this study, we examined phenotypic differences in four pea aphid biotypes where H. defensa occurs at high frequency and sometimes associated with other secondary symbionts. For each biotype, we measured the fecundity, lifespan and level of parasitoid protection in several aphid lineages differing in their symbiotic complement. Our results showed little variation in longevity and fecundity among lineages but strong differences in their protection level. These differences in protective levels largely resulted from the strain type of H. defensa and the symbiotic consortium in the host. This study highlights the important role of symbiotic complement in the emergence of phenotypic divergence among host populations of the same species.
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Comparison of fitness traits and their plasticity on multiple plants for Sitobion avenae infected and cured of a secondary endosymbiont

Comparison of fitness traits and their plasticity on multiple plants for Sitobion avenae infected and cured of a secondary endosymbiont | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it
Regiella insecticola has been found to enhance the performance of host aphids on certain plants, but its functional role in adaptation of host aphids to plants is still controversial. Here we evaluate the impacts of R. insecticola infections on vita
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A highly infective plant-associated bacterium influences reproductive rates in pea aphids

A highly infective plant-associated bacterium influences reproductive rates in pea aphids | Plant, Insect and Microbe Interactions | Scoop.it

Pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum, have the potential to increase reproduction as a defence against pathogens, though how frequently this occurs or how infection with live pathogens influences this response is not well understood. Here we determine the minimum infective dose of an environmentally common bacterium and possible aphid pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae, to determine the likelihood of pathogenic effects to pea aphids. Additionally, we used P. syringae infection to investigate how live pathogens may alter reproductive rates. We found that oral bacterial exposure decreased subsequent survival of aphids in a dose-dependent manner and we estimate that ingestion of less than 10 bacterial cells is sufficient to increase aphid mortality. Pathogen dose was positively related to aphid reproduction. Aphids exposed to low bacterial doses showed decreased, although statistically indistinguishable, fecundity compared to controls. Aphids exposed to high doses reproduced significantly more than low dose treatments and also more, but not significantly so, than controls. These results are consistent with previous studies suggesting that pea aphids may use fecundity compensation as a response to pathogens. Consequently, even low levels of exposure to a common plant-associated bacterium may therefore have significant effects on pea aphid survival and reproduction.

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Condition-dependent alteration of cellular immunity by secondary symbionts in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum

Endosymbionts can fundamentally alter host physiology. Whether such changes are beneficial or detrimental
to one or both partners may depend on the dynamics of the symbiotic relationship. Here we
investigate the relationship between facultative symbionts and host immune responses. The pea aphid,
Acyrthosiphon pisum, maintains an obligate primary symbiont, but may also harbour one or more facultative,
secondary symbionts. Given their more transient nature and relatively recent adoption of a symbiotic
lifestyle compared to primary symbionts, secondary symbionts may present a challenge for the
host immune system. We assessed the response of several key components of the cellular immune system
(phenoloxidase activity, encapsulation, immune cell counts) in the presence of alternative secondary
symbionts, investigating the role of host and secondary symbiont genotype in specific responses. There
was no effect of secondary symbiont presence on the phenoloxidase response, but we found variation
in the encapsulation response and in immune cell counts based largely on the secondary symbiont.
Host genotype was less influential in determining immunity outcomes. Our results highlight the importance
of secondary symbionts in shaping host immunity. Understanding the complex physiological
responses that can be propagated by host-symbiont associations has important consequences for host
ecology, including symbiont and pathogen transmission dynamics.

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Insect Gut Symbiont Susceptibility to Host Antimicrobial Peptides Caused by Alteration of the Bacterial Cell Envelope

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Background: The elucidation of molecular changes of symbionts is important for understanding symbiotic adaptation.

Results: Insect gut symbionts are highly susceptible to host immunity because of dramatic cell envelope changes.

Conclusion: Cell envelope changes in gut symbionts are required for successful symbiosis with hosts.

Significance: Biochemical analyses of intact gut symbionts revealed a novel mechanism of gut symbiosis.

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Is there a role for symbiotic bacteria in plant virus transmission by insects?

Highlights•

Insect-borne, circulative plant viruses exploit existing pathways in their vectors to promote plant-to-plant spread.

Conflicting evidence exists regarding the role of insect bacterial symbionts in circulative plant virus transmission.

The involvement of GroEL in transmission is difficult to assess because GroEL antibodies cross-react and GroEL is a chaperone.

A simple test can determine the relative contribution of a bacterial symbiont to plant virus transmission by insects.

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