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1.  Frontiers of torenia research: innovative ornamental traits and study of ecological interaction networks through genetic engineering 
Plant Methods  2013;9:23.
Advances in research in the past few years on the ornamental plant torenia (Torenia spps.) have made it notable as a model plant on the frontier of genetic engineering aimed at studying ornamental characteristics and pest control in horticultural ecosystems. The remarkable advantage of torenia over other ornamental plant species is the availability of an easy and high-efficiency transformation system for it. Unfortunately, most of the current torenia research is still not very widespread, because this species has not become prominent as an alternative to other successful model plants such as Arabidopsis, snapdragon and petunia. However, nowadays, a more global view using not only a few selected models but also several additional species are required for creating innovative ornamental traits and studying horticultural ecosystems. We therefore introduce and discuss recent research on torenia, the family Scrophulariaceae, for secondary metabolite bioengineering, in which global insights into horticulture, agriculture and ecology have been advanced. Floral traits, in torenia particularly floral color, have been extensively studied by manipulating the flavonoid biosynthetic pathways in flower organs. Plant aroma, including volatile terpenoids, has also been genetically modulated in order to understand the complicated nature of multi-trophic interactions that affect the behavior of predators and pollinators in the ecosystem. Torenia would accordingly be of great use for investigating both the variation in ornamental plants and the infochemical-mediated interactions with arthropods.
PMCID: PMC3701481  PMID: 23803155
Flavonoid; Flower color; Herbivore-induced plant volatiles (HIPVs); Indirect defense; Metabolic engineering; Torenia
3.  Acquired immunity of transgenic torenia plants overexpressing agmatine coumaroyltransferase to pathogens and herbivore pests 
Scientific Reports  2012;2:689.
We investigated the ability of transgenic torenia (Scrophulariaceae) plants to resist fungi and arthropod herbivores. Torenia hybrida cv. Summerwave Blue was manipulated to produce Arabidopsis agmatine coumaroyltransferase (AtACT). This catalyses the last step in the biosynthesis of hydroxycinnamic acid amides (HCAAs) which function in defence. Transgenic plants accumulated substantial HCAAs, predominantly p-coumaroylagmatine, and the HCAAs were isomerized from the trans-form to the cis-form in planta. The transgenic line, accumulated the highest amount of endogenous HCAAs (CouAgm at 32.2 µM and total HCAAs at 47.5 µM) and this line was resistant to the necrotrophic fungus, Botrytis cinerea. There was no resistance, however, in their wild-type progenitors or in other transgenic lines accumulating low HCAA amounts. In contrast, the transformants were not significantly resistant to three representative herbivores, Frankliniella occidentalis, Aphis gossypii, and Tetranychus ludeni.
PMCID: PMC3449287  PMID: 23008754
4.  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

Results 1-4 (4)