Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #368754

Research Project: Urban Small Farms and Gardens Pest Management

Location: Invasive Insect Biocontrol & Behavior Laboratory

Title: The response to cabbage looper infestation in Arabidopsis is altered by lowering levels of Zat18 a Q-type C2H2 zinc finger protein

item Lawrence, Susan
item Farrar, Robert
item Blackburn, Michael - Mike
item Shao, Jonathan
item Novak, Nicole

Submitted to: Journal of Plant Interactions
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/24/2021
Publication Date: 2/3/2022
Citation: Lawrence, S.D., Farrar, R.R., Blackburn, M.B., Shao, J.Y., Novak, N.G. 2022. The response to cabbage looper infestation in Arabidopsis is altered by lowering levels of Zat18 a Q-type C2H2 zinc finger protein. Journal of Plant Interactions.

Interpretive Summary: Crop plants are subjected to a myriad of stresses such as drought, insect pest or pathogen attack. Understanding the plant response by enhancing or depleting a specific gene, gives researchers the knowledge necessary to advance crop protective programs. In this study, we have found a gene in plants responsible for affecting digestive efficiency of the caterpillar, cabbage looper. By using next generation DNA sequencing the effect of a single gene loss can be monitored for the bulk of the expressed genes. Upon insect attack, several different gene pathways are responsible for defending the plant against the attacker. This approach allows scientists to know definitively what signaling genes trigger specific plant defense responses. This will allow the knowledge required to augment the crop defense most effective for the problem insect pest.

Technical Abstract: Q-type C2H2 zinc finger proteins (ZFPs) play a role in plant stress response. Overexpression of individual ZFPs enhances tolerance to abiotic stresses such as drought or salt. Overexpression of ZFP, Zat18 enhances tolerance to drought, whereas plants with lower amounts are less resilient. The effect of Zat18 loss on gene expression has not been characterized. Overexpression of an ortholog of Zat18 in potato, StZFP2 enhances tolerance to infestation by Manduca sexta. This work focuses on two Zat18 mutant lines, a knockout and knockdown. The two lines differ in response to infestation. Typically, a chewing insect induces the jasmonic acid (JA) pathway. While infestation induces JA pathway genes, Zat18 mutant lines downregulate abscisic acid signaling and induce ethylene signaling genes ERF1 and EBF2 as well as salicylic acid response gene NPR3. Knockdown Zat18, cause far more changes in the infestation response compared with Col-0 or the Zat18 knockout line.