Differential transcript accumulation in Cicer arietinum L. in response to a chewing insect Helicoverpa armigera and defence regulators correlate with reduced insect performance

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Abstract

Monitoring transcriptional reorganization triggered in response to a particular stress is an essential first step for the functional analysis of genes involved in the process. To characterize Cicer arietinum L. defence responses against Helicoverpa armigera feeding, transcript patterns elicited by both herbivore and mechanical wounding were profiled and compared, and the application of defence regulators was assessed. A combination of approaches was employed to develop transcript profiles, including suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH), macroarray, northern blot, and cluster analysis. Of the 63 unique genes isolated, 29 genes expressed differentially when Helicoverpa feeding and wounding responses were compared. Comparative macroarray analyses revealed that most of the Helicoverpa-induced transcripts were methyl jasmonate (MeJA) and ethylene (ET) regulated. The effects of mild insect infestation and the exogenous application of signalling compounds on larval feeding behaviour were also monitored. Bioassays were performed to measure dispersal percentage and growth of larvae on elicited plants. Larvae released on elicited plants had decreased larval performance, demonstrating the central role of induced plant defence against herbivory. Similarly, wounding and exogenous application of MeJA and ET also affected larval growth and feeding behaviour. Our results demonstrated that Helicoverpa attack up-regulated large transcriptional changes and induced chickpea defence responses. Therefore, the results of this study advance the understanding of non-model plant–insect interactions on a broader scale.

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