Insect pests negatively affect crop quality and yield; identifying new methods to protect crops against insects therefore has important agricultural applications. Our analysis of transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants showed that overexpression of PENTACYCLIC TRITERPENE SYNTHASE 1 (PEN1), encoding the key biosynthetic enzyme for the natural plant product (3E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene (DMNT), led to significant resistance against a major insect pest, Plustella xylostella. DMNT treatment severely damaged the peritrophic matrix (PM), a physical barrier isolating food and pathogens from the midgut wall cells. DMNT repressed the expression of PxMucin in midgut cells and knocking down PxMucin resulted in PM rupture and P. xylostella death. A 16S RNA survey revealed that DMNT significantly disrupted midgut microbiota populations and that midgut microbes were essential for DMNT-induced killing. Therefore, we propose that the midgut microbiota assists DMNT in killing P. xylostella. These findings may provide a novel approach for plant protection against P. xylostella.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files. Source data files have been provided for Figure 1-6, Figure 1-figure supplement 1, 3-5, Figure 4-figure supplement 2, Figure 5-figure supplement 2, and Figure 6-figure supplement 2-3.
- Peijin Li
- Peijin Li
- Peijin Li
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Youngsung Joo, Chungbuk National University, Republic of Korea
© 2021, Chen et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Maintaining water balance is a universal challenge for organisms living in terrestrial environments, especially for insects, which have essential roles in our ecosystem. Although the high surface area to volume ratio in insects makes them vulnerable to water loss, insects have evolved different levels of desiccation resistance to adapt to diverse environments. To withstand desiccation, insects use a lipid layer called cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) to reduce water evaporation from the body surface. It has long been hypothesized that the waterproofing capability of this CHC layer, which can confer different levels of desiccation resistance, depends on its chemical composition. However, it is unknown which CHC components are important contributors to desiccation resistance and how these components can determine differences in desiccation resistance. In this study, we used machine learning algorithms, correlation analyses, and synthetic CHCs to investigate how different CHC components affect desiccation resistance in 50 Drosophila and related species. We showed that desiccation resistance differences across these species can be largely explained by variation in CHC composition. In particular, length variation in a subset of CHCs, the methyl-branched CHCs (mbCHCs), is a key determinant of desiccation resistance. There is also a significant correlation between the evolution of longer mbCHCs and higher desiccation resistance in these species. Given that CHCs are almost ubiquitous in insects, we suggest that evolutionary changes in insect CHC components can be a general mechanism for the evolution of desiccation resistance and adaptation to diverse and changing environments.
How complex microbial communities respond to climatic fluctuations remains an open question. Due to their relatively short generation times and high functional diversity, microbial populations harbor great potential to respond as a community through a combination of strain-level phenotypic plasticity, adaptation, and species sorting. However, the relative importance of these mechanisms remains unclear. We conducted a laboratory experiment to investigate the degree to which bacterial communities can respond to changes in environmental temperature through a combination of phenotypic plasticity and species sorting alone. We grew replicate soil communities from a single location at six temperatures between 4°C and 50°C. We found that phylogenetically and functionally distinct communities emerge at each of these temperatures, with K-strategist taxa favored under cooler conditions and r-strategist taxa under warmer conditions. We show that this dynamic emergence of distinct communities across a wide range of temperatures (in essence, community-level adaptation) is driven by the resuscitation of latent functional diversity: the parent community harbors multiple strains pre-adapted to different temperatures that are able to ‘switch on’ at their preferred temperature without immigration or adaptation. Our findings suggest that microbial community function in nature is likely to respond rapidly to climatic temperature fluctuations through shifts in species composition by resuscitation of latent functional diversity.