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Hessian Fly (Mayetiola destructor) Attack Causes a Dramatic Shift in Carbon and Nitrogen Metabolism in Wheat

January 2008 , Volume 21 , Number  1
Pages  70 - 78

Lieceng Zhu,1 Xuming Liu,1 Xiang Liu,1 Richard Jeannotte,2 John C. Reese,1 Marion Harris,3 Jeffrey J. Stuart,4 and Ming-Shun Chen1

1Department of Entomology, 2Division of Biology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, U.S.A.; 3Department of Entomology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58105, U.S.A.; 4Department of Entomology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, U.S.A.

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Accepted 18 September 2007.

Carbon and nitrogen (C/N) metabolism and allocation within the plant have important implications for plant-parasite interactions. Many plant parasites manipulate the host by inducing C/N changes that benefit their own survival and growth. Plant resistance can prevent this parasite manipulation. We used the wheat--Hessian fly (Mayetiola destructor) system to analyze C/N changes in plants during compatible and incompatible interactions. The Hessian fly is an insect but shares many features with plant pathogens, being sessile during feeding stages and having avirulence (Avr) genes that match plant resistance genes in gene-for-gene relationships. Many wheat genes involved in C/N metabolism were differentially regulated in plants during compatible and incompatible interactions. In plants during compatible interactions, the content of free carbon-containing compounds decreased 36%, whereas the content of free nitrogen-containing compounds increased 46%. This C/N shift was likely achieved through a coordinated regulation of genes in a number of central metabolic pathways, including glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, and amino-acid synthesis. Our data on plants during compatible interactions support recent findings that Hessian fly larvae create nutritive cells at feeding (attack) sites and manipulate host plants to enhance their own survival and growth. In plants during incompatible interactions, most of the metabolic genes examined were not affected or down-regulated.

© 2008 The American Phytopathological Society