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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Development and Application of Genetic, Genomic, and Bioinformatic Resources in Maize

Location: Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research

Title: Natural variation in maize aphid resistance is associated with 2,4-Dihydroxy-7-Methoxy-1,4-Benzoxazin-3-One Glucoside Methyltransferase activity

item Meihls, Lisa -
item Handrick, Vinzenz -
item Glauser, Gaetan -
item Barbier, Hugues -
item Kaur, Harleen -
item Haribal, Meena -
item Lipka, Alexander -
item Gershenzon, Jonathan -
item Buckler, Edward
item Erb, Matthias -
item Kollner, Tobias -
item Jander, Georg -

Submitted to: The Plant Cell
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 11, 2013
Publication Date: June 28, 2013
Citation: Meihls, L.N., Handrick, V., Glauser, G., Barbier, H., Kaur, H., Haribal, M.M., Lipka, A.E., Gershenzon, J., Buckler IV, E.S., Erb, M., Kollner, T.G., Jander, G. 2013. Natural variation in maize aphid resistance is associated with 2,4-Dihydroxy-7-Methoxy-1,4-Benzoxazin-3-One Glucoside Methyltransferase activity. The Plant Cell. 25(6):2341-2355.

Interpretive Summary: Every year between 6% and 19% of maize yield is lost globally to insects and herbivores. This study identified a key gene and associated biochemical compounds that help defend maize against losses by the insect – aphids. Temperate maize lost resistance to aphids through the natural insertion of a transposon into this gene, while multiple tropical varieties of maize still retain an active copy of the gene and confer greater aphid resistance. Genetic markers at this gene can be used to design breeding that taps this natural diversity. Overall, this study highlights the value of genetic mapping with diverse maize germplasm to find useful resistance against insects and herbivores.

Technical Abstract: Plants differ greatly in their susceptibility to insect herbivory, suggesting both local adaptation and resistance tradeoffs. We used maize (Zea mays) recombinant inbred lines to map a quantitative trait locus (QTL) for the maize leaf aphid (Rhopalosiphum maidis) susceptibility to maize Chromosome 1. Phytochemical analysis revealed that the same locus was also associated with high levels of 2-hydroxy-4,7-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one glucoside (HDMBOA-Glc) and low levels of 2,4-dihydroxy-7-methoxy-1,4-benzoxazin-3-one glucoside (DIMBOA-Glc). In vitro enzyme assays with candidate genes from the region of the QTL identi'ed three O-methyltransferases (Bx10a-c) that convert DIMBOA-Glc to HDMBOA-Glc. Variation in HDMBOA-Glc production was attributed to a natural CACTA family transposon insertion that inactivates Bx10c in maize lines with low HDMBOA-Glc accumulation. When tested with a population of 26 diverse maize inbred lines, R. maidis produced more progeny on those with high HDMBOA-Glc and low DIMBOA-Glc. Although HDMBOA-Glc was more toxic to R. maidis than DIMBOA-Glc in vitro, BX10c activity and the resulting decline of DIMBOA-Glc upon methylation to HDMBOA-Glc were associated with reduced callose deposition as an aphid defense response in vivo. Thus, a natural transposon insertion appears to mediate an ecologically relevant trade-off between the direct toxicity and defense-inducing properties of maize benzoxazinoids.

Last Modified: 11/29/2015
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