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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Hard Winter Wheat Genetics Research

Title: A protein from the salivary glands of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, is essential in feeding on a host plant)

item Mutti, Navdeep
item Louis, Joe
item Pappan, Loretta
item Pappan, Kirk
item Begum, Khurshida
item Chen, Ming-shun
item Park, Yoonseong
item Dittmer, Neal
item Marshall, Jeremy
item Reese, John
item Reeck, Gerald

Submitted to: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/26/2008
Publication Date: 7/22/2008
Citation: Mutti, N.S., Louis, J., Pappan, L.K., Pappan, K., Begum, K., Chen, M., Park, Y., Dittmer, N., Marshall, J., Reese, J.C., Reeck, G.R. 2008. A protein from the salivary glands of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, is essential in feeding on a host plant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.105:9965-9969.

Interpretive Summary: Insects, especially those with sucking mouthparts, inject proteins and other substances into host tissues to facilitate feeding. This research, for the first time, has demonstrated that a salivary protein is essential for an insect to survive on host plants. Without this protein (through so-called gene silencing), the insect can survive on an artificial diet, but not on a host plant. The essentiality of this protein for the insect to live on a host plant indicates a possibility to convert a host plant into a nonhost by artificially expressed double-stranded RNA of the insect gene in plants.

Technical Abstract: In feeding, aphids inject saliva into plant tissues, gaining access to phloem sap and eliciting (and sometimes overcoming) plant responses. We are examining the involvement, in this aphid-plant interaction, of individual aphid proteins and enzymes, as identified in a salivary gland cDNA library. Here, we focus on a salivary protein we have arbitrarily designated Protein C002. We have shown, by using RNAi-based transcript knockdown, that this protein is important in the survival of the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) on fava bean, a host plant. Here, we further characterize the process of knockdown aphids. The encoded protein fails to match any protein outside of the family Aphididae. By using in situ hybridication and immunohistochemistry, the transcript and the protein were localized to a subset of secretary cells in principal salivary glands. Protein C002, whose sequence contains an N-terminal secretion signal, is injected into the host plant during aphid feeding. By using the electrical penetration graph method on C002-knockdown aphids, we find that the knockdown affects several aspects of foraging and feeding, with the result that the C002-knockdown aphids spend very little time in contact with phloem sap in sieve elements. Thus, we infer that protein C002 is crucial in the feeding of the pea aphid on fava bean.

Last Modified: 8/24/2016
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