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1.  Whiteflies Glycosylate Salicylic Acid and Secrete the Conjugate via Their Honeydew 
During insect feeding, a complex interaction takes place at the feeding site, with plants deciphering molecular information associated with the feeding herbivore, resulting in the upregulation of the appropriate defenses, and the herbivore avoiding or preventing these defenses from taking effect. Whiteflies can feed on plants without causing significant damage to mesophyll cells, making their detection extra challenging for the plant. However, whiteflies secrete honeydew that ends up on the plant surface at the feeding site and on distal plant parts below the feeding site. We reasoned that this honeydew, since it is largely of plant origin, may contain molecular information that alerts the plant, and we focused on the defense hormone salicylic acid (SA). First, we analyzed phloem sap from tomato plants, on which the whiteflies are feeding, and found that it contained salicylic acid (SA). Subsequently, we determined that in honeydew more than 80 % of SA was converted to its glycoside (SAG). When whiteflies were allowed to feed from an artificial diet spiked with labeled SA, labeled SAG also was produced. However, manually depositing honeydew on undamaged plants resulted still in a significant increase in endogenous free SA. Accordingly, transcript levels of PR1a, an SA marker gene, increased whereas those of PI-II, a jasmonate marker gene, decreased. Our results indicate that whiteflies manipulate the SA levels within their secretions, thus influencing the defense responses in those plant parts that come into contact with honeydew.
PMCID: PMC4303718  PMID: 25563984
Whitefly; Phloem feeder; Plant defense; Herbivory; Honeydew; Elicitor; Salicylic acid
2.  Resistance to sap-sucking insects in modern-day agriculture 
Plants and herbivores have co-evolved in their natural habitats for about 350 million years, but since the domestication of crops, plant resistance against insects has taken a different turn. With the onset of monoculture-driven modern agriculture, selective pressure on insects to overcome resistances has dramatically increased. Therefore plant breeders have resorted to high-tech tools to continuously create new insect-resistant crops. Efforts in the past 30 years have resulted in elucidation of mechanisms of many effective plant defenses against insect herbivores. Here, we critically appraise these efforts and – with a focus on sap-sucking insects – discuss how these findings have contributed to herbivore-resistant crops. Moreover, in this review we try to assess where future challenges and opportunities lay ahead. Of particular importance will be a mandatory reduction in systemic pesticide usage and thus a greater reliance on alternative methods, such as improved plant genetics for plant resistance to insect herbivores.
PMCID: PMC3694213  PMID: 23818892
phloem-feeding insects; crop pests; breeding; genetically modified crops; natural insecticides
3.  Lipoxygenase-mediated modification of insect elicitors 
Plant Signaling & Behavior  2010;5(12):1674-1676.
Plants can distinguish mechanical damage from larval folivory through the recognition of specific constituents of larval oral secretions (OS) which are deposited on the surface of leaf wounds during feeding. Fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) are major constituents of the OS of Lepidopteran larvae and they are strong elicitors of herbivore-induced defense responses in several plant species, including the wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata. When OS from Manduca sexta larvae is deposited on N. attenuata wounded leaves, the major FAC N-linolenoyl-glutamic acid (18:3-Glu) is modified within seconds by a heat labile process. Some of the major modified forms are oxygenated products derived from 13-lipoxygenase activity and one of these derivatives, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu, is an active elicitor of enhanced JA biosynthesis and differential monoterpene emission in N. attenuata leaves.
PMCID: PMC3115133  PMID: 21150262
lipoxygenase; plant-insect interactions; fatty acid-amino acid conjugates; FAC; fatty acid-amides; insect elicitor; jasmonic acid; volatiles; herbivore-associated-elicitors; HAEs
4.  Rapid modification of the insect elicitor N-linolenoyl-glutamate via a lipoxygenase-mediated mechanism on Nicotiana attenuata leaves 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:164.
Some plants distinguish mechanical wounding from herbivore attack by recognizing specific constituents of larval oral secretions (OS) which are introduced into plant wounds during feeding. Fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) are major constituents of Manduca sexta OS and strong elicitors of herbivore-induced defense responses in Nicotiana attenuata plants.
The metabolism of one of the major FACs in M. sexta OS, N-linolenoyl-glutamic acid (18:3-Glu), was analyzed on N. attenuata wounded leaf surfaces. Between 50 to 70% of the 18:3-Glu in the OS or of synthetic 18:3-Glu were metabolized within 30 seconds of application to leaf wounds. This heat-labile process did not result in free α-linolenic acid (18:3) and glutamate but in the biogenesis of metabolites both more and less polar than 18:3-Glu. Identification of the major modified forms of this FAC showed that they corresponded to 13-hydroxy-18:3-Glu, 13-hydroperoxy-18:3-Glu and 13-oxo-13:2-Glu. The formation of these metabolites occurred on the wounded leaf surface and it was dependent on lipoxygenase (LOX) activity; plants silenced in the expression of NaLOX2 and NaLOX3 genes showed more than 50% reduced rates of 18:3-Glu conversion and accumulated smaller amounts of the oxygenated derivatives compared to wild-type plants. Similar to 18:3-Glu, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu activated the enhanced accumulation of jasmonic acid (JA) in N. attenuata leaves whereas 13-hydroxy-18:3-Glu did not. Moreover, compared to 18:3-Glu elicitation, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu induced the differential emission of two monoterpene volatiles (β-pinene and an unidentified monoterpene) in irlox2 plants.
The metabolism of one of the major elicitors of herbivore-specific responses in N. attenuata plants, 18:3-Glu, results in the formation of oxidized forms of this FAC by a LOX-dependent mechanism. One of these derivatives, 13-oxo-13:2-Glu, is an active elicitor of JA biosynthesis and differential monoterpene emission.
PMCID: PMC3095298  PMID: 20696061

Results 1-4 (4)