Laboratorium voor Entomologie, Laboratorium voor Plantenveredeling, WUR Plant Breeding
Plants show phenotypic changes when challenged with herbivorous insects. The mechanisms underlying these changes include the activation of transcriptional responses, which are dependent on the attacking insect. Most transcriptomic studies on crucifer–insect interactions have focused on the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a species that faces low herbivore pressure in nature. Here, we study the transcriptional responses of plants from a wild black mustard (Brassica nigra) population to herbivores of different feeding guilds using an A. thaliana-based whole-genome microarray that has previously been shown to be suitable for transcriptomic analyses in Brassica. Transcriptional responses of B. nigra after infestation with either Pieris rapae caterpillars or Brevicoryne brassicae aphids are analyzed and compared. Additionally, the insect-induced expression changes of some individual genes are analyzed through quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. The results show that feeding by both insect species results in the accumulation of transcripts encoding proteins involved in the detoxification of reactive oxygen species, defensive proteins and glucosinolates and this is correlated with experimental evidence in the literature on such biochemical effects. Although genes encoding proteins involved in similar processes are regulated by both insects, there was little overlap in the induction or repression of individual genes. Furthermore, P. rapae and B. brassicae seem to affect different phytohormone signaling pathways. In conclusion, our results indicate that B. nigra activates several defense-related genes in response to P. rapae or B. brassicae feeding, but that the response is dependent on the attacking insect species.