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1.  Jasmonate-dependent plant defense restricts thrips performance and preference 
BMC Plant Biology  2009;9:97.
The western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis [Pergande]) is one of the most important insect herbivores of cultivated plants. However, no pesticide provides complete control of this species, and insecticide resistance has emerged around the world. We previously reported the important role of jasmonate (JA) in the plant's immediate response to thrips feeding by using an Arabidopsis leaf disc system. In this study, as the first step toward practical use of JA in thrips control, we analyzed the effect of JA-regulated Arabidopsis defense at the whole plant level on thrips behavior and life cycle at the population level over an extended period. We also studied the effectiveness of JA-regulated plant defense on thrips damage in Chinese cabbage (Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis).
Thrips oviposited more on Arabidopsis JA-insensitive coi1-1 mutants than on WT plants, and the population density of the following thrips generation increased on coi1-1 mutants. Moreover, thrips preferred coi1-1 mutants more than WT plants. Application of JA to WT plants before thrips attack decreased the thrips population. To analyze these important functions of JA in a brassica crop plant, we analyzed the expression of marker genes for JA response in B. rapa. Thrips feeding induced expression of these marker genes and significantly increased the JA content in B. rapa. Application of JA to B. rapa enhanced plant resistance to thrips, restricted oviposition, and reduced the population density of the following generation.
Our results indicate that the JA-regulated plant defense restricts thrips performance and preference, and plays an important role in the resistance of Arabidopsis and B. rapa to thrips damage.
PMCID: PMC2724403  PMID: 19635132
2.  Effect of Watermelon Silver Mottle Virus on the Life History and Feeding Preference of Thrips palmi 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102021.
Thrips-borne tospoviruses cause numerous plant diseases that produce severe economic losses worldwide. In the disease system, thrips not only damage plants through feeding but also transmit causative agents of epidemics. In addition, thrips are infected with tospoviruses in the course of virus transmission. Most studies on the effect of tospoviruses on vector thrips have focused on the Tomato spotted wilt virus–Frankliniella occidentalis system. Thus, we focused on another thrips-borne tospovirus, Watermelon silver mottle virus (WSMoV), to examine the effect of virus infection on its vector, Thrips palmi. In this study, the direct and indirect effects of WSMoV on the life history traits and feeding preference of T. palmi were examined. The survival rate and developmental time of the WSMoV-infected larval thrips did not differ significantly from those of the virus-free thrips. Comparing the developmental time of larval thrips fed on the healthy plants, thrips-damaged plants, and thrips-inoculated plants (the WSMoV-infected plants caused by thrips feeding), feeding on the thrips-damaged plants reduced the developmental time, and the WSMoV infection in host plants partially canceled the effect of thrips damage on the developmental time. In addition, no significant variations between the virus-free and WSMoV-infected adult thrips regarding longevity and fecundity were observed. These results implied that WSMoV did not directly affect the life history traits of T. palmi, but the WSMoV infection indirectly affected the development of T. palmi through the virus-infected plants. Furthermore, feeding preference tests indicated that T. palmi preferred feeding on either the thrips-damaged plants or the thrips-inoculated plants to the healthy plants. The effect of tospoviruses on the life history and feeding preference of vector thrips might vary among host plants, virus species, vector species, and environmental factors.
PMCID: PMC4092097  PMID: 25010157
3.  Analysis of the Salivary Gland Transcriptome of Frankliniella occidentalis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94447.
Saliva is known to play a crucial role in insect feeding behavior and virus transmission. Currently, little is known about the salivary glands and saliva of thrips, despite the fact that Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (the western flower thrips) is a serious pest due to its destructive feeding, wide host range, and transmission of tospoviruses. As a first step towards characterizing thrips salivary gland functions, we sequenced the transcriptome of the primary salivary glands of F. occidentalis using short read sequencing (Illumina) technology. A de novo-assembled transcriptome revealed 31,392 high quality contigs with an average size of 605 bp. A total of 12,166 contigs had significant BLASTx or tBLASTx hits (E≤1.0E−6) to known proteins, whereas a high percentage (61.24%) of contigs had no apparent protein or nucleotide hits. Comparison of the F. occidentalis salivary gland transcriptome (sialotranscriptome) against a published F. occidentalis full body transcriptome assembled from Roche-454 reads revealed several contigs with putative annotations associated with salivary gland functions. KEGG pathway analysis of the sialotranscriptome revealed that the majority (18 out of the top 20 predicted KEGG pathways) of the salivary gland contig sequences match proteins involved in metabolism. We identified several genes likely to be involved in detoxification and inhibition of plant defense responses including aldehyde dehydrogenase, metalloprotease, glucose oxidase, glucose dehydrogenase, and regucalcin. We also identified several genes that may play a role in the extra-oral digestion of plant structural tissues including β-glucosidase and pectin lyase; and the extra-oral digestion of sugars, including α-amylase, maltase, sucrase, and α-glucosidase. This is the first analysis of a sialotranscriptome for any Thysanopteran species and it provides a foundational tool to further our understanding of how thrips interact with their plant hosts and the viruses they transmit.
PMCID: PMC3988053  PMID: 24736614
4.  Salt-Induced Stabilization of EIN3/EIL1 Confers Salinity Tolerance by Deterring ROS Accumulation in Arabidopsis 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(10):e1004664.
Ethylene has been regarded as a stress hormone to regulate myriad stress responses. Salinity stress is one of the most serious abiotic stresses limiting plant growth and development. But how ethylene signaling is involved in plant response to salt stress is poorly understood. Here we showed that Arabidopsis plants pretreated with ethylene exhibited enhanced tolerance to salt stress. Gain- and loss-of-function studies demonstrated that EIN3 (ETHYLENE INSENSITIVE 3) and EIL1 (EIN3-LIKE 1), two ethylene-activated transcription factors, are necessary and sufficient for the enhanced salt tolerance. High salinity induced the accumulation of EIN3/EIL1 proteins by promoting the proteasomal degradation of two EIN3/EIL1-targeting F-box proteins, EBF1 and EBF2, in an EIN2-independent manner. Whole-genome transcriptome analysis identified a list of SIED (Salt-Induced and EIN3/EIL1-Dependent) genes that participate in salt stress responses, including several genes encoding reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavengers. We performed a genetic screen for ein3 eil1-like salt-hypersensitive mutants and identified 5 EIN3 direct target genes including a previously unknown gene, SIED1 (At5g22270), which encodes a 93-amino acid polypeptide involved in ROS dismissal. We also found that activation of EIN3 increased peroxidase (POD) activity through the direct transcriptional regulation of PODs expression. Accordingly, ethylene pretreatment or EIN3 activation was able to preclude excess ROS accumulation and increased tolerance to salt stress. Taken together, our study provides new insights into the molecular action of ethylene signaling to enhance plant salt tolerance, and elucidates the transcriptional network of EIN3 in salt stress response.
Author Summary
High salinity, as a world-wide abiotic stress, restricts root water uptake, damages cell physiology, and limits the productivity of agricultural crops. Ethylene is a major phytohormone that regulates plant development in response to adverse environments, including high salt stress. However, the molecular mechanisms of how ethylene signal exerts its effect and how ethylene signaling is modulated upon salt stress remain to be explored. Here, we report that high salinity induces EIN3/EIL1 protein accumulation and EBF1/2 protein degradation in an EIN2-independent manner. Moreover, the activated EIN3 deters excess ROS accumulation and increases salt tolerance. Transcriptome analysis and functional studies reveal an EIN3-directed gene network in salt stress response. Functional studies of 114 SIED (Salt-Induced and EIN3/EIL1-Dependent) genes identify a novel regulator of ROS dismissal and salt tolerance. This new understanding of ethylene/salt mutual regulation would allow a better manipulation and engineering of EIN3 and its downstream SIED genes to enhance plant tolerance and adaption to salt stress, particularly in those economically important crops in the future.
PMCID: PMC4199496  PMID: 25330213
5.  Transcriptional and metabolic signatures of Arabidopsis responses to chewing damage by an insect herbivore and bacterial infection and the consequences of their interaction 
Plants use multiple interacting signaling systems to identify and respond to biotic stresses. Although it is often assumed that there is specificity in signaling responses to specific pests, this is rarely examined outside of the gene-for-gene relationships of plant-pathogen interactions. In this study, we first compared early events in gene expression and later events in metabolite profiles of Arabidopsis thaliana following attack by either the caterpillar Spodoptera exigua or avirulent (DC3000 avrRpm1) Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato at three time points. Transcriptional responses of the plant to caterpillar feeding were rapid, occurring within 1 h of feeding, and then decreased at 6 and 24 h. In contrast, plant response to the pathogen was undetectable at 1 h but grew larger and more significant at 6 and 24 h. There was a surprisingly large amount of overlap in jasmonate and salicylate signaling in responses to the insect and pathogen, including levels of gene expression and individual hormones. The caterpillar and pathogen treatments induced different patterns of expression of glucosinolate biosynthesis genes and levels of glucosinolates. This suggests that when specific responses develop, their regulation is complex and best understood by characterizing expression of many genes and metabolites. We then examined the effect of feeding by the caterpillar Spodoptera exigua on Arabidopsis susceptibility to virulent (DC3000) and avirulent (DC3000 avrRpm1) P. syringae pv. tomato, and found that caterpillar feeding enhanced Arabidopsis resistance to the avirulent pathogen and lowered resistance to the virulent strain. We conclude that efforts to improve plant resistance to bacterial pathogens are likely to influence resistance to insects and vice versa. Studies explicitly comparing plant responses to multiple stresses, including the role of elicitors at early time points, are critical to understanding how plants organize responses in natural settings.
PMCID: PMC4166115  PMID: 25278943
Arabidopsis thaliana; Spodoptera exigua; Pseudomonas syringae; herbivory; hormone signaling; glucosinolates
6.  Innate Responses to Putative Ancestral Hosts: Is the Attraction of Western Flower Thrips to Pine Pollen a Result of Relict Olfactory Receptors? 
Journal of Chemical Ecology  2014;40(6):534-540.
Pollinophagy is widely documented in the order Thysanoptera, with representative individuals from six of the nine divergent families known to feed on pollen. Various pollens of the genus Pinus increase the development time, fecundity, longevity, and settling preference of Western Flower Thrips (WFT), Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae). Certain species of flower thrips discriminate among pollen types, but no studies have elucidated the olfactory cues that play a role in their pollen preferences. In this study, the volatile organic compounds emitted by pollens of the genus Pinus were elucidated. Various chemicals from pollen headspace elicited electrophysiological responses from WFT antennae. The compound (S)-(-)-verbenone, identified in pollen headspace, attracted WFT in a 4-arm olfactometer. This compound has potential for use in integrated pest management programs against the pest. We present the hypothesis that this polyphagous insect may have retained ancestral ‘relict’ olfactory receptors through the course of evolution, to explain this attraction to pine pollen. This attraction has allowed the insect to find and exploit an unusual nutrient source that significantly increases its fitness. The study demonstrates how fossil record analysis and subsequent evolutionary knowledge can aid in explaining possibilities as to why some insects sense and respond to chemicals that would otherwise seem peculiar to their ecology, allowing insight into the evolutionary forces that may shape insect olfactory systems over time.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s10886-014-0450-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4090808  PMID: 24879603
Frankliniella occidentalis; Thrips; Pine pollen; Semiochemical; (S)-(-)-Verbenone; Electroantennogram; Insect pest
7.  Can Mass Trapping Reduce Thrips Damage and Is It Economically Viable? Management of the Western Flower Thrips in Strawberry 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80787.
The western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) is a cosmopolitan, polyphagous insect pest that causes bronzing to fruit of strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa). The main aim of this study was to test whether mass trapping could reduce damage and to predict whether this approach would be economically viable. In semi-protected strawberry crops, mass trapping of F. occidentalis using blue sticky roller traps reduced adult thrips numbers per flower by 61% and fruit bronzing by 55%. The addition of the F. occidentalis aggregation pheromone, neryl (S)-2-methylbutanoate, to the traps doubled the trap catch, reduced adult thrips numbers per flower by 73% and fruit bronzing by 68%. The factors affecting trapping efficiency through the season are discussed. Damage that would result in downgrading of fruit to a cheaper price occurred when bronzing affected about 10% of the red fruit surface. Cost-benefit analysis using this threshold showed that mass trapping of thrips using blue sticky roller traps can be cost-effective in high-value crops. The addition of blue sticky roller traps to an integrated pest management programme maintained thrips numbers below the damage threshold and increased grower returns by a conservative estimate of £2.2k per hectare. Further work is required to develop the F. occidentalis aggregation pheromone for mass trapping and to determine the best timing for trap deployment. Mass trapping of thrips is likely to be cost-effective in other countries and other high-value crops affected by F. occidentalis damage, such as cucumber and cut flowers.
PMCID: PMC3839998  PMID: 24282554
8.  Selenium hyperaccumulation offers protection from cell disruptor herbivores 
BMC Ecology  2010;10:19.
Hyperaccumulation, the rare capacity of certain plant species to accumulate toxic trace elements to levels several orders of magnitude higher than other species growing on the same site, is thought to be an elemental defense mechanism against herbivores and pathogens. Previous research has shown that selenium (Se) hyperaccumulation protects plants from a variety of herbivores and pathogens. Selenium hyperaccumulating plants sequester Se in discrete locations in the leaf periphery, making them potentially more susceptible to some herbivore feeding modes than others. In this study we investigate the protective function of Se in the Se hyperaccumulators Stanleya pinnata and Astragalus bisulcatus against two cell disrupting herbivores, the western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) and the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae).
Astragalus bisulcatus and S. pinnata with high Se concentrations (greater than 650 mg Se kg-1) were less subject to thrips herbivory than plants with low Se levels (less than 150 mg Se kg-1). Furthermore, in plants containing elevated Se levels, leaves with higher concentrations of Se suffered less herbivory than leaves with less Se. Spider mites also preferred to feed on low-Se A. bisulcatus and S. pinnata plants rather than high-Se plants. Spider mite populations on A. bisulcatus decreased after plants were given a higher concentration of Se. Interestingly, spider mites could colonize A. bisulcatus plants containing up to 200 mg Se kg-1 dry weight, concentrations which are toxic to many other herbivores. Selenium distribution and speciation studies using micro-focused X-ray fluorescence (μXRF) mapping and Se K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy revealed that the spider mites accumulated primarily methylselenocysteine, the relatively non-toxic form of Se that is also the predominant form of Se in hyperaccumulators.
This is the first reported study investigating the protective effect of hyperaccumulated Se against cell-disrupting herbivores. The finding that Se protected the two hyperaccumulator species from both cell disruptors lends further support to the elemental defense hypothesis and increases the number of herbivores and feeding modes against which Se has shown a protective effect. Because western flower thrips and two-spotted spider mites are widespread and economically important herbivores, the results from this study also have potential applications in agriculture or horticulture, and implications for the management of Se-rich crops.
PMCID: PMC2940900  PMID: 20799959
9.  Activation of the Phenylpropanoid Pathway in Nicotiana tabacum Improves the Performance of the Whitefly Bemisia tabaci via Reduced Jasmonate Signaling 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76619.
Phloem-feeding insects can manipulate plant-induced resistance and are able to suppress effective jasmonic acid/ethylene (JA/ET) defenses by the induction of inefficient salicylic acid (SA) based responses. As a result, activation of the phenylpropanoid biosynthesis pathway in transgenic plants is anticipated to cause complex interactions between phloem-feeding insects and their host plants due to predicted contradiction between two defense forces: the toxicity of various phenylpropanoids and the accumulation of SA via a branch of the activated pathway.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we investigated the effect of activating the phenylpropanoids pathway in Nicotiana tabacum, by over-expression of the PAP1 transcription factor, on the whitefly Bemisia tabaci, a phloem-feeding insect model. Our performance assays indicated that the over-expression made the transgenic plants a more suitable host for B. tabaci than wild-type (WT) plants, although these plants accumulated significantly higher levels of flavonoids. Transcription analyses of indicator genes in the SA (PR1a) and JA/ET (ERF1, COI1 and AOC) pathways followed by quantification of the SA and JA hormone levels, indicated that B. tabaci infestation periods longer than 8 hours, caused higher levels of activity of SA signaling in transgenic plants and higher levels of JA/ET signaling in WT plants.
Taken together, these results emphasize the important role JA/ET-induced defenses play in protecting plants from successful infestation by B. tabaci and likely other phloem-feeding insects. It also indicates the necessity of phloem feeders to suppress these defenses for efficient utilization of plant hosts. Our data also indicate that the defensive chemistry produced by the phenylpropanoids pathway has only a minor effect on the insect fitness.
PMCID: PMC3808378  PMID: 24204646
10.  The Green Lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea: Preference between Lettuce Aphids, Nasonovia ribisnigri, and Western Flower Thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis 
This study investigated the prey preference of 3rd instar green lacewing, Chrysoperla carnea Stephens (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae), between western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), and lettuce aphids, Nasonovia ribisnigri (Mosley) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in laboratory experiments at 25 ± 1° C and 70 ± 5% RH with five prey ratios (10 aphids:80 thrips, 25 aphids:65 thrips, 45 aphids:45 thrips, 65 aphids:25 thrips, and 80 aphids:10 thrips). Third instar C. carnea larvae readily preyed upon both thrips and aphids, with thrips mortality varying between 40 and 90%, and aphid mortality between 52 and 98%. Chrysoperla carnea had a significant preference for N. ribisnigri at two ratios (10 aphids:80 thrips, 65 aphids:25 thrips), but no preference for either prey at the other ratios. There was no significant linear relationship between preference index and prey ratio, but a significant intercept of the linear regression indicated an overall preference of C. carnea for aphids with a value of 0.651 ± 0.054. The possible implications of these findings for control of N. ribisnigri and F. occidentalis by C. carnea are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3835039  PMID: 24205864
Aphididae; biological control; Chrysopidae; prey ratios; Thripidae
11.  Testing the importance of jasmonate signalling in induction of plant defences upon cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae) attack 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:423.
Phloem-feeding aphids deprive plants of assimilates, but mostly manage to avoid causing the mechanical tissue damage inflicted by chewing insects. Nevertheless, jasmonate signalling that is induced by infestation is important in mediating resistance to phloem feeders. Aphid attack induces the jasmonic acid signalling pathway, but very little is known about the specific impact jasmonates have on the expression of genes that respond to aphid attack.
We have evaluated the function that jasmonates have in regulating Arabidopsis thaliana responses to cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae) by conducting a large-scale transcriptional analysis of two mutants: aos, which is defective in jasmonate production, and fou2, which constitutively induces jasmonic acid biosynthesis. This analysis enabled us to determine which genes' expression patterns depend on the jasmonic acid signalling pathway. We identified more than 200 genes whose expression in non-challenged plants depended on jasmonate levels and more than 800 genes that responded differently to infestation in aos and fou2 plants than in wt. Several aphid-induced changes were compromised in the aos mutant, particularly genes connected to regulation of transcription, defence responses and redox changes. Due to jasmonate-triggered pre-activation of fou2, its transcriptional profile in non-challenged plants mimicked the induction of defence responses in wt. Additional activation of fou2 upon aphid attack was therefore limited. Insect fitness experiments revealed that the physiological consequences of fou2 mutation contributed to more effective protection against B. brassicae. However, the observed resistance of the fou2 mutant was based on antibiotic rather than feeding deterrent properties of the mutant as indicated by an analysis of aphid feeding behaviour.
Analysis of transcriptional profiles of wt, aos and fou2 plants revealed that the expression of more than 200 genes is dependent on jasmonate status, regardless of external stimuli. Moreover, the aphid-induced response of more than 800 transcripts is regulated by jasmonate signalling. Thus, in plants lacking jasmonates many of the defence-related responses induced by infestation in wt plants are impaired. Constant up-regulation of jasmonate signalling as evident in the fou2 mutant causes reduction in aphid population growth, likely as a result of antibiotic properties of fou2 plants. However, aos mutation does not seem to affect aphid performance when the density of B. brassicae populations on plants is low and aphids are free to move around.
PMCID: PMC3175479  PMID: 21854623
aphid; gene expression; infestation; jasmonic acid signalling; microarrays; plant defence; EPG
12.  Habituation in Frankliniella occidentalis to deterrent plant compounds and their blends 
Feeding and oviposition deterrence of three secondary plant compounds and their 1:1 blends to adult female Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) and the potential for habituation of the thrips to the pure compounds and the 1:1 blends at various concentrations were investigated. In choice assays, we tested dose‐dependent feeding and oviposition deterrence of the two fatty acid derivatives methyl jasmonate and cis‐jasmone, the phenylpropanoid allylanisole, and their blends when directly applied to bean leaf discs. The concentration required to reduce the feeding damage by 50% relative to the control treatment (FDC50) was lowest for cis‐jasmone and highest for allylanisole. The feeding deterrent effect of both jasmonates was increased when blended with allylanisole. Feeding deterrence and oviposition deterrence were strongly correlated. In no‐choice assays conducted over four consecutive days, we discovered that dilutions at low concentrations (FDC15) applied to bean leaves resulted in habituation to the deterrents, whereas no habituation occurred at higher concentrations (FDC50). We observed a tendency that the 1:1 blends reduce the probability that thrips habituate to the deterrent compounds. Our results may be useful in the development of integrated crop protection strategies with the implementation of allelochemicals as pest behaviour‐modifying agents.
PMCID: PMC4164025  PMID: 25253898
Western flower thrips; secondary plant compound; feeding deterrence; methyl jasmonate; cis‐jasmone; allylanisole; Thysanoptera; Thripidae
13.  Thysanoptera (Thrips) Within Citrus Orchards in Florida: Species Distribution, Relative and Seasonal Abundance Within Trees, and Species on Vines and Ground Cover Plants 
Seven citrus orchards on reduced to no pesticide spray programs were sampled for Thysanoptera in central and south central Florida. Inner and outer canopy leaves, fruits, twigs, trunk scrapings, vines and ground cover plants were sampled monthly between January 1995 and January 1996. Thirty-six species of thrips were identified from 2,979 specimens collected from within citrus tree canopies and 18,266 specimens from vines and ground cover plants within the seven citrus orchards. The thrips species included seven predators [Aleurodothrips fasciapennis (Franklin), Karnyothrips flavipes (Jones), K. melaleucus (Bagnall), Leptothrips cassiae (Watson), L. macroocellatus (Watson), L. pini (Watson), and Scolothrips sexmaculatus (Pergande)] 21 plant feeding species [Anaphothrips n. sp., Arorathrips mexicanus (Crawford), Aurantothrips orchidaceous (Bagnall), Baileyothrips limbatus (Hood), Chaetanaphothrips orchidii (Moulton), Danothrips trifasciatus (Sakimura), Echinothrips americanus (Morgan), Frankliniella bispinosa (Morgan), F. cephalica (Crawford), F. fusca (Hinds), F. gossypiana (Hood), Frankliniella sp. (runneri group), Haplothrips gowdeyi (Franklin), Heliothrips haemorrhoidalis (Bouché), Leucothrips piercei (Morgan), Microcephalothrips abdominalis (Crawford), Neohydatothrips floridanus (Watson), N. portoricensis (Morgan), Pseudothrips inequalis (Beach), Scirtothrips sp., and Thrips hawaiiensis (Morgan)]; and eight fungivorous feeding species [Adraneothrips decorus (Hood), Hoplandrothrips pergandei (Hinds), Idolothripinae sp., Merothrips floridensis (Watson), M. morgani (Hood), Neurothrips magnafemoralis (Hinds), Stephanothrips occidentalis Hood and Williams, and Symphyothrips sp.]. Only F. bispinosa, C. orchidii, D. trifasciatus, and H. haemorrhoidalis have been considered economic pests on Florida citrus. Scirtothrips sp. and T. hawaiiensis were recovered in low numbers within Florida citrus orchards. Both are potential pest species to citrus and possibly other crops in Florida. The five most abundant thrips species collected within citrus tree canopies were: A. fasciapennis, F. bispinosa, C. orchidii, K. flavipes, and D. trifasciatus. In comparison, the following five thrips species were most abundant on vines or ground cover plants: F. bispinosa, H. gowdeyi, F. cephalica, M. abdominalis, and F. gossypiana. Fifty-eight species of vines or ground cover plants in 26 families were infested with one or more of 27 species of thrips.
PMCID: PMC2990331  PMID: 20233100
Thrips; Terebrantia; Phlaeothripinae; Idolothripinae; Thripidae; Phlaeothripidae
14.  Rewiring of the Jasmonate Signaling Pathway in Arabidopsis during Insect Herbivory 
Plant defenses against insect herbivores and necrotrophic pathogens are differentially regulated by different branches of the jasmonic acid (JA) signaling pathway. In Arabidopsis, the basic helix-loop-helix leucine zipper transcription factor (TF) MYC2 and the APETALA2/ETHYLENE RESPONSE FACTOR (AP2/ERF) domain TF ORA59 antagonistically control these distinct branches of the JA pathway. Feeding by larvae of the specialist insect herbivore Pieris rapae activated MYC2 transcription and stimulated expression of the MYC2-branch marker gene VSP2, while it suppressed transcription of ORA59 and the ERF-branch marker gene PDF1.2. Mutant jin1 and jar1-1 plants, which are impaired in the MYC2-branch of the JA pathway, displayed a strongly enhanced expression of both ORA59 and PDF1.2 upon herbivory, indicating that in wild-type plants the MYC2-branch is prioritized over the ERF-branch during insect feeding. Weight gain of P. rapae larvae in a no-choice setup was not significantly affected, but in a two-choice setup the larvae consistently preferred jin1 and jar1-1 plants, in which the ERF-branch was activated, over wild-type Col-0 plants, in which the MYC2-branch was induced. In MYC2- and ORA59-impaired jin1-1/RNAi-ORA59 plants this preference was lost, while in ORA59-overexpressing 35S:ORA59 plants it was gained, suggesting that the herbivores were stimulated to feed from plants that expressed the ERF-branch rather than that they were deterred by plants that expressed the MYC2-branch. The feeding preference of the P. rapae larvae could not be linked to changes in glucosinolate levels. Interestingly, application of larval oral secretion into wounded leaf tissue stimulated the ERF-branch of the JA pathway, suggesting that compounds in the oral secretion have the potential to manipulate the plant response toward the caterpillar-preferred ERF-regulated branch of the JA response. Our results suggest that by activating the MYC2-branch of the JA pathway, plants prevent stimulation of the ERF-branch by the herbivore, thereby becoming less attractive to the attacker.
PMCID: PMC3355780  PMID: 22645537
plant defense signaling; jasmonic acid; plant–insect interactions; hormone crosstalk; Pieris rapae
15.  Behavioural responses of Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande larvae to methyl jasmonate and cis-jasmone 
Journal of Pest Science  2013;87(1):53-59.
The larval stages of Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) cause more direct feeding damage to plants than the adults. We, therefore, investigated the behaviour-modifying effects on second instar larvae of two jasmonic acid derivatives. The artificial application of methyl jasmonate and cis-jasmone, both at 1 % concentration, deterred the larvae from settling in a dual choice bean leaf disc assay. We observed a dose-dependent feeding deterrence of both jasmonates and calculated the concentration required to reduce the feeding damage by 50 % relative to the control treatment (FDC50) for each jasmonate. The feeding damage was reduced by the application of cis-jasmone at 1 % concentration, but not by the jasmonates at the respective FDC50 in no-choice leaf disc bioassays. However, significantly more larvae left jasmonate-treated whole potted bean plants by migrating to the soil compared with control plants. Our results may be exploited extending behavioural manipulation by using plant compounds in thrips control programmes to the full lifecycle of the pest. Plant compounds could be used in integrated and biological pest management strategies against F. occidentalis in combination with the application of various above and below ground control measures.
PMCID: PMC3925295  PMID: 24563647
Thrips; Second instar; Secondary plant compounds; Jasmonates; Feeding deterrent; Leaving behaviour
16.  Variation within and between Frankliniella Thrips Species in Host Plant Utilization 
Anthophilous flower thrips in the genus Frankliniella (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) exploit ephemeral plant resources and therefore must be capable of successfully locating appropriate hosts on a repeated basis, yet little is known of interspecific and intraspecific variation in responses to host plant type and nutritional quality. Field trials were conducted over two seasons to determine if the abundance of males and females of three common Frankliniella species, F. occidentalis (Pergande), F. tritici (Fitch) and F. bispinosa (Morgan), their larvae, and a key predator, Orius insidiosus (Say) (Hemiptera: Anthocoridae) were affected by host plant type and plant nutritional quality. Two host plants, pepper, Capsicum annuum L. (Solanales: Solanaceae) and tomato, Solanum lycopersicum L. that vary in suitability for these species were examined, and their nutritional quality was manipulated by applying three levels of nitrogen fertilization (101 kg/ha, 202 kg/ha, 404 kg/ha). F. occidentalis females were more abundant in pepper than in tomato, but males did not show a differential response. Both sexes of F. tritici and F. bispinosa were more abundant in tomato than in pepper. Larval thrips were more abundant in pepper than in tomato. Likewise, O. insidiosus females and nymphs were more abundant in pepper than in tomato. Only F. occidentalis females showed a distinct response to nitrogen fertilization, with abundance increasing with fertilization. These results show that host plant utilization patterns vary among Frankliniella spp. and should not be generalized from results of the intensively studied F. occidentalis. Given the different pest status of these species and their differential abundance in pepper and tomato, it is critical that scouting programs include species identifications for proper management.
PMCID: PMC3281448  PMID: 21539418
fertilization; flower thrips; Frankliniella occidentalis; Frankliniella tritici; Frankliniella bispinosa; host selection; Orius insidiosus; pepper; tomato
17.  How Predictable Are the Behavioral Responses of Insects to Herbivore Induced Changes in Plants? Responses of Two Congeneric Thrips to Induced Cotton Plants 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63611.
Changes in plants following insect attack are referred to as induced responses. These responses are widely viewed as a form of defence against further insect attack. In the current study we explore whether it is possible to make generalizations about induced plant responses given the unpredictability and variability observed in insect-plant interactions. Experiments were conducted to test for consistency in the responses of two congeneric thrips, Frankliniella schultzei Trybom and Frankliniella occidentalis Pergrande (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) to cotton seedlings (Gossypium hirsutum Linneaus (Malvales: Malvaceae)) damaged by various insect herbivores. In dual-choice experiments that compared intact and damaged cotton seedlings, F. schultzei was attracted to seedlings damaged by Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), Tetranychus urticae (Koch) (Trombidiforms: Tetranychidae), Tenebrio molitor Linnaeus (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae), F. schultzei and F. occidentalis but not to mechanically damaged seedlings. In similar tests, F. occidentalis was attracted to undamaged cotton seedlings when simultaneously exposed to seedlings damaged by H. armigera, T. molitor or F. occidentalis. However, when exposed to F. schultzei or T. urticae damaged plants, F. occidentalis was more attracted towards damaged plants. A quantitative relationship was also apparent, F. schultzei showed increased attraction to damaged seedlings as the density of T. urticae or F. schultzei increased. In contrast, although F. occidentalis demonstrated increased attraction to plants damaged by higher densities of T. urticae, there was a negative relationship between attraction and the density of damaging conspecifics. Both species showed greater attraction to T. urticae damaged seedlings than to seedlings damaged by conspecifics. Results demonstrate that the responses of both species of thrips were context dependent, making generalizations difficult to formulate.
PMCID: PMC3653804  PMID: 23691075
18.  Onset of herbivore-induced resistance in systemic tissue primed for jasmonate-dependent defenses is activated by abscisic acid 
In Arabidopsis, the MYC2 transcription factor on the one hand and the AP2/ERF transcription factors ORA59 and ERF1 on the other hand regulate distinct branches of the jasmonic acid (JA) signaling pathway in an antagonistic fashion, co-regulated by abscisic acid (ABA) and ethylene, respectively. Feeding by larvae of the specialist herbivorous insect Pieris rapae (small cabbage white butterfly) results in activation of the MYC-branch and concomitant suppression of the ERF-branch in insect-damaged leaves. Here we investigated differential JA signaling activation in undamaged systemic leaves of P. rapae-infested plants. We found that the MYC2 transcription factor gene was induced both in the local insect-damaged leaves and the systemic undamaged leaves of P. rapae-infested Arabidopsis plants. However, in contrast to the insect-damaged leaves, the undamaged tissue did not show activation of the MYC-branch marker gene VSP1. Comparison of the hormone signal signature revealed that the levels of JA and (+)-7-iso-jasmonoyl-L-isoleucine raised to similar extents in locally damaged and systemically undamaged leaves, but the production of ABA and the JA precursor 12-oxo-phytodienoic acid was enhanced only in the local herbivore-damaged leaves, and not in the distal undamaged leaves. Challenge of undamaged leaves of pre-infested plants with either P. rapae larvae or exogenously applied ABA led to potentiated expression levels of MYC2 and VSP1, with the latter reaching extremely high expression levels. Moreover, P. rapae-induced resistance, as measured by reduction of caterpillar growth on pre-infested plants, was blocked in the ABA biosynthesis mutant aba2-1, that was also impaired in P. rapae-induced expression of VSP1. Together, these results suggest that ABA is a crucial regulator of herbivore-induced resistance by activating primed JA-regulated defense responses upon secondary herbivore attack in Arabidopsis.
PMCID: PMC3874679  PMID: 24416038
abscisic acid; jasmonic acid; priming; systemic defense; Pieris rapae; MYC2
19.  Regulation of RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase 1 and Isochorismate Synthase Gene Expression in Arabidopsis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66530.
RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RDRs) function in anti-viral silencing in Arabidopsis thaliana and other plants. Salicylic acid (SA), an important defensive signal, increases RDR1 gene expression, suggesting that RDR1 contributes to SA-induced virus resistance. In Nicotiana attenuata RDR1 also regulates plant-insect interactions and is induced by another important signal, jasmonic acid (JA). Despite its importance in defense RDR1 regulation has not been investigated in detail.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In Arabidopsis, SA-induced RDR1 expression was dependent on ‘NON-EXPRESSER OF PATHOGENESIS-RELATED GENES 1’, indicating regulation involves the same mechanism controlling many other SA- defense-related genes, including pathogenesis-related 1 (PR1). Isochorismate synthase 1 (ICS1) is required for SA biosynthesis. In defensive signal transduction RDR1 lies downstream of ICS1. However, supplying exogenous SA to ics1-mutant plants did not induce RDR1 or PR1 expression to the same extent as seen in wild type plants. Analysing ICS1 gene expression using transgenic plants expressing ICS1 promoter:reporter gene (β-glucuronidase) constructs and by measuring steady-state ICS1 transcript levels showed that SA positively regulates ICS1. In contrast, ICS2, which is expressed at lower levels than ICS1, is unaffected by SA. The wound-response hormone JA affects expression of Arabidopsis RDR1 but jasmonate-induced expression is independent of CORONATINE-INSENSITIVE 1, which conditions expression of many other JA-responsive genes. Transiently increased RDR1 expression following tobacco mosaic virus inoculation was due to wounding and was not a direct effect of infection. RDR1 gene expression was induced by ethylene and by abscisic acid (an important regulator of drought resistance). However, rdr1-mutant plants showed normal responses to drought.
RDR1 is regulated by a much broader range of phytohormones than previously thought, indicating that it plays roles beyond those already suggested in virus resistance and plant-insect interactions. SA positively regulates ICS1.
PMCID: PMC3684572  PMID: 23799112
20.  Identification of the Aggregation Pheromone of the Melon Thrips, Thrips palmi 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103315.
The objective of this study was to identify the aggregation pheromone of the melon thrips Thrips palmi, a major pest of vegetable and ornamental plants around the world. The species causes damage both through feeding activities and as a vector of tospoviruses, and is a threat to world trade and European horticulture. Improved methods of detecting and controlling this species are needed and the identification of an aggregation pheromone will contribute to this requirement. Bioassays with a Y-tube olfactometer showed that virgin female T. palmi were attracted to the odour of live males, but not to that of live females, and that mixed-age adults of both sexes were attracted to the odour of live males, indicating the presence of a male-produced aggregation pheromone. Examination of the headspace volatiles of adult male T. palmi revealed only one compound that was not found in adult females. It was identified by comparison of its mass spectrum and chromatographic details with those of similar compounds. This compound had a structure like that of the previously identified male-produced aggregation pheromone of the western flower thrips Frankliniella occidentalis. The compound was synthesised and tested in eggplant crops infested with T. palmi in Japan. Significantly greater numbers of both males and females were attracted to traps baited with the putative aggregation pheromone compared to unbaited traps. The aggregation pheromone of T. palmi is thus identified as (R)-lavandulyl 3-methyl-3-butenoate by spectroscopic, chromatographic and behavioural analysis.
PMCID: PMC4125133  PMID: 25101871
21.  Molecular Signatures in Arabidopsis thaliana in Response to Insect Attack and Bacterial Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58987.
Under the threat of global climatic change and food shortages, it is essential to take the initiative to obtain a comprehensive understanding of common and specific defence mechanisms existing in plant systems for protection against different types of biotic invaders. We have implemented an integrated approach to analyse the overall transcriptomic reprogramming and systems-level defence responses in the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana (A. thaliana henceforth) during insect Brevicoryne brassicae (B. brassicae henceforth) and bacterial Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato strain DC3000 (P. syringae henceforth) attacks. The main aim of this study was to identify the attacker-specific and general defence response signatures in A. thaliana when attacked by phloem-feeding aphids or pathogenic bacteria.
The obtained annotated networks of differentially expressed transcripts indicated that members of transcription factor families, such as WRKY, MYB, ERF, BHLH and bZIP, could be crucial for stress-specific defence regulation in Arabidopsis during aphid and P. syringae attack. The defence response pathways, signalling pathways and metabolic processes associated with aphid attack and P. syringae infection partially overlapped. Components of several important biosynthesis and signalling pathways, such as salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), ethylene (ET) and glucosinolates, were differentially affected during the two the treatments. Several stress-regulated transcription factors were known to be associated with stress-inducible microRNAs. The differentially regulated gene sets included many signature transcription factors, and our co-expression analysis showed that they were also strongly co-expressed during 69 other biotic stress experiments.
Defence responses and functional networks that were unique and specific to aphid or P. syringae stresses were identified. Furthermore, our analysis revealed a probable link between biotic stress and microRNAs in Arabidopsis and, thus gives indicates a new direction for conducting large-scale targeted experiments to explore the detailed regulatory links between them. The presented results provide a comparative understanding of Arabidopsis – B. brassicae and Arabidopsis – P. syringae interactions at the transcriptomic level.
PMCID: PMC3607608  PMID: 23536844
22.  Foraging on Individual Leaves by an Intracellular Feeding Insect Is Not Associated with Leaf Biomechanical Properties or Leaf Orientation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80911.
Nearly all herbivorous arthropods make foraging-decisions on individual leaves, yet systematic investigations of the adaptive significance and ecological factors structuring these decisions are rare with most attention given to chewing herbivores. This study investigated why an intracellular feeding herbivore, Western flower thrips (WFT) Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande, generally avoids feeding on the adaxial leaf surface of cotton cotyledons. WFT showed a significant aversion to adaxial-feeding even when excised-cotyledons were turned up-side (abaxial-side ‘up’), suggesting that negative-phototaxis was not a primary cause of thrips foraging patterns. No-choice bioassays in which individual WFT females were confined to either the abaxial or adaxial leaf surface showed that 35% fewer offspring were produced when only adaxial feeding was allowed, which coincided with 32% less plant feeding on that surface. To test the hypothesis that leaf biomechanical properties inhibited thrips feeding on the adaxial surface, we used a penetrometer to measure two variables related to the ‘toughness’ of each leaf surface. Neither variable negatively co-varied with feeding. Thus, while avoiding the upper leaf surface was an adaptive foraging strategy, the proximate cause remains to be elucidated, but is likely due, in part, to certain leaf properties that inhibit feeding.
PMCID: PMC3829965  PMID: 24260510
23.  Proteomic Analysis of Frankliniella occidentalis and Differentially Expressed Proteins in Response to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Infection 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(16):8793-8809.
Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is transmitted by Frankliniella occidentalis in a persistent propagative manner. Despite the extensive replication of TSWV in midgut and salivary glands, there is little to no pathogenic effect on F. occidentalis. We hypothesize that the first-instar larva (L1) of F. occidentalis mounts a response to TSWV that protects it from pathogenic effects caused by virus infection and replication in various insect tissues. A partial thrips transcriptome was generated using 454-Titanium sequencing of cDNA generated from F. occidentalis exposed to TSWV. Using these sequences, the L1 thrips proteome that resolved on a two-dimensional gel was characterized. Forty-seven percent of the resolved protein spots were identified using the thrips transcriptome. Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) analysis of virus titer in L1 thrips revealed a significant increase in the normalized abundance of TSWV nucleocapsid RNA from 2 to 21 h after a 3-h acquisition access period on virus-infected plant tissue, indicative of infection and accumulation of virus. We compared the proteomes of infected and noninfected L1s to identify proteins that display differential abundances in response to virus. Using four biological replicates, 26 spots containing 37 proteins were significantly altered in response to TSWV. Gene ontology assignments for 32 of these proteins revealed biological roles associated with the infection cycle of other plant- and animal-infecting viruses and antiviral defense responses. Our findings support the hypothesis that L1 thrips display a complex reaction to TSWV infection and provide new insights toward unraveling the molecular basis of this interaction.
PMCID: PMC3421711  PMID: 22696645
24.  Harpin-induced expression and transgenic overexpression of the phloem protein gene AtPP2-A1 in Arabidopsis repress phloem feeding of the green peach aphid Myzus persicae 
BMC Plant Biology  2011;11:11.
Treatment of plants with HrpNEa, a protein of harpin group produced by Gram-negative plant pathogenic bacteria, induces plant resistance to insect herbivores, including the green peach aphid Myzus persicae, a generalist phloem-feeding insect. Under attacks by phloem-feeding insects, plants defend themselves using the phloem-based defense mechanism, which is supposed to involve the phloem protein 2 (PP2), one of the most abundant proteins in the phloem sap. The purpose of this study was to obtain genetic evidence for the function of the Arabidopsis thaliana (Arabidopsis) PP2-encoding gene AtPP2-A1 in resistance to M. persicae when the plant was treated with HrpNEa and after the plant was transformed with AtPP2-A1.
The electrical penetration graph technique was used to visualize the phloem-feeding activities of apterous agamic M. persicae females on leaves of Arabidopsis plants treated with HrpNEa and an inactive protein control, respectively. A repression of phloem feeding was induced by HrpNEa in wild-type (WT) Arabidopsis but not in atpp2-a1/E/142, the plant mutant that had a defect in the AtPP2-A1 gene, the most HrpNEa-responsive of 30 AtPP2 genes. In WT rather than atpp2-a1/E/142, the deterrent effect of HrpNEa treatment on the phloem-feeding activity accompanied an enhancement of AtPP2-A1 expression. In PP2OETAt (AtPP2-A1-overexpression transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana) plants, abundant amounts of the AtPP2-A1 gene transcript were detected in different organs, including leaves, stems, calyces, and petals. All these organs had a deterrent effect on the phloem-feeding activity compared with the same organs of the transgenic control plant. When a large-scale aphid population was monitored for 24 hours, there was a significant decrease in the number of aphids that colonized leaves of HrpNEa-treated WT and PP2OETAt plants, respectively, compared with control plants.
The repression in phloem-feeding activities of M. persicae as a result of AtPP2-A1 overexpression, and as a deterrent effect of HrpNEa treatment in WT Arabidopsis rather than the atpp2-a1/E/142 mutant suggest that AtPP2-A1 plays a role in plant resistance to the insect, particularly at the phloem-feeding stage. The accompanied change of aphid population in leaf colonies suggests that the function of AtPP2-A1 is related to colonization of the plant.
PMCID: PMC3030531  PMID: 21226963
25.  COI1, a jasmonate receptor, is involved in ethylene-induced inhibition of Arabidopsis root growth in the light 
Journal of Experimental Botany  2010;61(15):4373-4386.
Plant response to stress is orchestrated by hormone signalling pathways including those activated by jasmonates (JAs) and by ethylene, both of which stunt root growth. COI1 is a JA receptor and is required for the known responses to this hormone. It was observed that the coi1 mutant, which is largely unresponsive to growth inhibition by JAs, was also partially unresponsive to growth inhibition by ethylene and by its immediate precursor, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), in the light but not in the dark. Although COI1 was required for this response to ACC, other components of the JA signal perception pathway were not. Mutants selected for insensitivity to ethylene, including etr1, ein2, and ein3, showed greater ACC-induced root growth inhibition in the light than in the dark. However, the double mutants etr1;coi1, ein2;coi1, and ein3;coi1, and coi1 seedlings treated with silver ions to block the ethylene receptors showed almost complete unresponsiveness to ACC-induced root growth inhibition in the light. The light requirement for the COI1-mediated growth inhibition by ACC was for long photoperiods, and the ACC response was not abolished by mutations in the known photoreceptors. The complementation assay indicated that SCF complex assembly was not required for COI1 function in the ACC response, in contrast to the JA response. It is concluded that COI1 is required for the light-dependent, JA-independent, root growth inhibition by ethylene.
PMCID: PMC2955748  PMID: 20699268
Arabidopsis; COI1; ethylene; jasmonate; light; root growth inhibition

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