Vitamin C and the abscisic acid-insensitive 4 transcription factor are important determinants of aphid resistance in Arabidopsis

Pavel I Kerchev, Barbara Karpińska, Jenny A Morris, Akila Hussain, Susan R Verrall, Peter E Hedley, Brian Fenton, Christine H Foyer, Robert D Hancock
Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 2013 June 1, 18 (16): 2091-105

AIMS: Aphids, like other insects, are probably unable to synthesize vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which is therefore an essential dietary nutrient that has to be obtained from the host plant. Plant responses to aphids involve hormones such as salicylic acid (SA), jasmonic acid (JA), and abscisic acid (ABA), but hormone/redox interactions remain poorly characterized. We therefore investigated hormone/redox signaling in the response of Arabidopsis thaliana to infestation by the aphid Myzus persicae, focusing on the interactions between ascorbic acid and ABA, together with the influence of altered ascorbate and ABA signaling on the SA- and JA-dependent pathways.

RESULTS: Whole-genome microarray analysis revealed highly dynamic transcriptional responses to aphid infestation with extensive differences between transcript profiles of infested and systemic leaves, revealing aphid-dependent effects on the suites of transcripts involved in the redox, SA, and ABA responses. Central roles for ascorbate, ABA-insensitive 4 (ABI4), and oxidative signal-inducible 1 in plant resistance to aphids were demonstrated by altered fecundity on respective mutants. However, ABA had a negative effect on aphid resistance, as did ABI4 or redox-responsive transcription factor 1. The decrease in aphid fecundity observed in mutants defective in ascorbate accumulation (vtc2) was absent from abi4vtc2 double mutants that are also deficient in ABA signaling (abi4). Aphid-dependent transcriptome responses reveal a role for ascorbate-regulated receptor-like kinases in plant defenses against aphids.

INNOVATION: Vitamin C deficiency enhances plant resistance to aphids through redox signaling pathways rather than dietary requirements.

CONCLUSION: ABI4 is a linchpin of redox regulation of the innate immune response to aphids.

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