Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Ithaca, NY, U.S.A.
The complex interactions between aphids and their host plant are species-specific and involve multiple layers of recognition and defense. Aphid salivary proteins, which are released into the plant during phloem feeding, are a likely mediator of these interactions. In an approach to identify aphid effectors that facilitate feeding from host plants, eleven Myzus persicae (green peach aphid) salivary proteins and the GroEL protein of Buchnera aphidicola, a bacterial endosymbiont of this aphid species, were expressed transiently in Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco). Whereas two salivary proteins increased aphid reproduction, expression of three other aphid proteins and GroEL significantly decreased aphid reproduction on N. tabacum. These effects were recapitulated in stable transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Further experiments with A. thaliana expressing Mp55, a salivary protein that increased aphid reproduction, showed lower accumulation of 4-methoxyindol-3-ylmethylglucosinolate, callose and hydrogen peroxide in response to aphid feeding. Mp55-expressing plants also were more attractive for aphids in choice assays. Silencing Mp55 gene expression in M. persicae using RNA interference approaches reduced aphid reproduction on N. tabacum, A. thaliana, and N. benthamiana. Together, these results demonstrate a role for Mp55, a protein with as-yet-unknown molecular function, in the interaction of M. persicae with its host plants.