Hussain T, Aksoy E, Çalișkan ME, Bakhsh A. Transgenic Res. 2019;28(1):151-164. doi: 10.1007/s11248-018-0109-7.

Most of the commercialized insect resistant transgenic crops express cry gene(s) isolated from Bacillus thuringiensis; however, intensive cultivation of Bt crops over almost two decades has been questioned regarding its sustainability and durability in pest management. The present study focused on silencing of highly specific molting-associated Ecdysone receptor (EcR) gene of Colorado potato beetle (CPB) using RNA interference (RNAi) approach. The partial cDNA of EcR gene of CPB was amplified using specific primers in sense and anti-sense orientations, and cloned in pRNAi-GG vector flanked by an intronic sequence (pdk). Leaf and internodal explants of Agria and Lady Olympia potato cultivars were infected with Agrobacterium strain LBA4404 harboring constructs under the control of CaMV 35S promoter. Standard molecular analysis of primary transformants showed proper integration of T-DNA in plant genome. The transgenic plants of both cultivars were evaluated for their efficacy against first, second and third instar CPB larvae. The leaf biotoxicity assays revealed 15-80% of CPB mortality. A significantly lower fold-change (0.87-4.14×) in larval weight was observed in insects fed on transgenic plants compared to the ones fed on control plants (1.87-6.53×). Furthermore, CPB larvae fed on transgenic plants exhibited reduced EcR transcripts, indicating the functionality of dsRNA EcR in silencing EcR gene expression. This study is an excellent example of the integration of an alternative, effective and reliable method to cope with potato insect pests that incur significant losses to potato production in the world.

Molnár I, Besenyei E, Thieme R, et al. Pest Manag Sci. 2017;73(7):1428-1437.

BACKGROUND: Colorado potato beetle (CPB) has become the biggest enemy of cultivated potato worldwide. One of the most effective sources of resistance to CPB is Solanum chacoense, an accession with a high leptine glycoalkaloid content. The aim of our study was to assay the repellence and toxicity of S. chacoense, its somatic hybrids (SHs) and their backcross progenies (BC1) with potato for CPB adults and larvae. Transgenic S. chacoense, deficient in DNA mismatch repair (MMR), was also used to produce SHs, in order to increase homeologous recombination and hence introgression of wild-species DNA into the potato gene pool. RESULTS: Wild-type SH was highly resistant to CPB. Resistance to CPB of BC1 progenies showed a 1:3 inheritance pattern. MMR-deficient SHs performed better in the resistance analysis. Most MMR-deficient SHs had a similar toxicity as S. chacoense and an intensely repellent effect on CPB adults. Resistance of SHs and BC1 clones may be attributed to leptine biosynthesis, which was confirmed using a RAPD marker. CONCLUSION: This is the first report of SHs and their progenies exhibiting both antibiosis and antixenosis against CPB. Resistant SHs are an important step forward in combating this voracious pest of potato.

Malik RJ, Ali JG, Bever JD.  Pedobiologia. 2018;66:29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.pedobi.2017.12.004.

While arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi may have a prominent role in trophic ecology, mycorrhizal improvement or reduction on herbivore growth and survival may also be dependent on herbivore's stage of development. Solanum lycopersicon (tomato) was grown on sterile background soil treated with either mycorrhizal inoculant (AM+) or non-mycorrhizal control (AM-). Mycorrhizal treatments included four single species of AM-fungi (Entrophospora infrequens, Funneliformis mosseae, Claroideoglomus claroideum, and Racocetra fulgida) and a mixture of all four species (fungal community). To determine if mycorrhizal treatment indirectly alters the ability of beetle larvae (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) to access plant resources, plant damage and trichome density were quantified as plants were infested with a single neonate (early-stage) for 96 hours (h). In a second experiment, beetle growth rate was assessed as plants were infested with a single third-instar (late-stage). After 72 h of late-stage beetle infestation, beetle mass was measured. It was found that early-stage beetles inflicted more damage on AM+ tomatoes. Interestingly, this corresponds with fewer trichomes on AM+ tomatoes, as well as higher early-stage beetle survivorship. Specifically, AM taxon, C. claroideum increases herbivory and thereby reduces beetle mortality. Among late-stage beetles, C. claroideum does not improve beetle growth nor rate of survival. This suggests that AM taxa that are beneficial to early-stage beetles may not necessarily provide an advantage to late-stage beetles. Taken together, these findings highlight potential dependencies of AM-fungal effects on herbivory and herbivore life history, including growth and life-stage specific survival.

Andrés MF, Rossa GE, Cassel E, et al. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2017;109:1086-1092.

In this study we evaluated the effect of a pressure gradient (1-2 atm) in the extraction and composition of the essential oil (EO) of Piper hispidinervum by steam distillation. We also evaluated the insect antifeedant effects (Spodoptera littoralis, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, Myzus persicae and Rhopalosiphum padi) and nematicidal activity (Meloidogyne javanica) of the oils, their major components and their synergistic interactions. Safrole was the major component (78-81%) followed by terpinolene (5-9%). The EOs tested were effective insect antifeedants. Safrole, explained most of the insect antifeedant action of P. hispidinervum EOs. When safrole and terpinolene were tested in binary combinations, low ratios of safrole improved the antifeedant effects of terpinolene. P. hispidinervum EOs caused higher mortality of M. javanica juveniles than their major components. In binary combinations, low ratios of terpinolene increased the nematicidal effects of safrole. The EO treatment strongly suppressed nematode egg hatching and juvenile infectivity. P. hispidinervum EOs affected the germination of S. lycopersicum and L. sativa mostly at 24 h of treatment, being L. sativa the most sensitive. Safrole moderately affected germination and root growth of L. sativa, S. lycopersicum and L. perenne. Terpinolene only affected S. lycopersicum root growth.

Chung SH, Scully ED, Peiffer M, et al. Scientific Reports. 2017;7(1):39690. doi: 10.1038/srep39690.

Herbivore associated bacteria are vital mediators of plant and insect interactions. Host plants play an important role in shaping the gut bacterial community of insects. Colorado potato beetles (CPB; Leptinotarsa decemlineata) use several Solanum plants as hosts in their natural environment. We previously showed that symbiotic gut bacteria from CPB larvae suppressed jasmonate (JA)-induced defenses in tomato. However, little is known about how changes in the bacterial community may be involved in the manipulation of induced defenses in wild and cultivated Solanum plants of CPB. Here, we examined suppression of JA-mediated defense in wild and cultivated hosts of CPB by chemical elicitors and their symbiotic bacteria. Furthermore, we investigated associations between the gut bacterial community and suppression of plant defenses using 16 S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Symbiotic bacteria decreased plant defenses in all Solanum hosts and there were different gut bacterial communities in CPB fed on different host plants. When larvae were reared on different hosts, defense suppression differed among host plants. These results demonstrate that host plants influence herbivore gut bacterial communities and consequently affect the herbivore's ability to manipulate JA-mediated plant defenses. Thus, the presence of symbiotic bacteria that suppress plant defenses might help CPB adapt to host plants.

Weintraub R, Garrido E, Poveda K. American Journal of Potato Research. 2018;95(6):642-649. doi: 10.1007/s12230-018-9670-0.

Tolerance is a type of defense that allows plants to attenuate the negative effects of herbivory. Tolerance has been shown to be context-dependent, contingent on abiotic and biotic factors such as nutrients and plant age. Here, we determine the simultaneous effect of herbivory at different phenological stages and nitrogen regimen on the potato's ability to tolerate herbivory. We subjected young and blooming plants of two potato varieties to 50% injury by Colorado Potato Beetle in low and high nitrogen environments to determine their effects on tuber yield and plant tolerance. All plants in the high nitrogen treatment expressed higher yield and tolerance compared to those in the low nitrogen treatment. Control plants expressed higher yield than plants in either herbivory treatment. There was a variety by phenological stage of herbivory interaction showing that phenological-based tolerance expression within species is genotype dependent.

López-Galiano MJ, Ruiz-Arroyo V, Fernández-Crespo E, et al. J Plant Physiol. 2017;215:59-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jplph.2017.04.013.

Insect-plant interactions are governed by a complex equilibrium between the mechanisms through which plant recognize insect attack and orchestrate downstream signaling events that trigger plant defense responses, and the mechanisms by which insects overcome plant defenses. Due to this tight and dynamic interplay, insight into the nature of the plant defense response can be gained by analyzing changes in the insect herbivores digestive system upon plant feeding. In this work we have identified a Solanum melongena miraculin-like protease inhibitor in the midgut juice of Colorado potato larvae feeding on eggplant plants treated with the natural inducer of plant defenses hexanoic acid. We analyzed the corresponding gene expression by qRT-PCR and our results showed that this eggplant miraculin-like gene enhanced induction contributes to the hexanoic acid priming effect in this Solanaceae species. Moreover, our data evidencing that OPDA might be involved in this gene regulation highlights its potential as biomarker in eggplant plant responses to stress mediated this oxylipin signaling pathway.

Wetzel WC, Thaler JS. Oecologia. 2018;186(2):483-493. doi: 10.1007/s00442-017-4034-x.

A consequence of plant diversity is that it can allow or force herbivores to consume multiple plant species, which studies indicate can have major effects on herbivore fitness. An underappreciated but potentially important factor modulating the consequences of multi-species diets is the extent to which herbivores can choose their diets versus being forced to consume specific host-plant sequences. We examined how host-selection behavior alters the effects of multi-species diets using the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) and diets of potato plants (Solanum tuberosum), tomato plants (S. lycopersicum), or both. When we gave beetles simultaneous access to both plants, allowing them to choose their diets, their final mass was within 0.1% of the average mass across both monocultures and 43.6% lower than mass on potato, the superior host in monoculture. This result indicates these beetles do not benefit from a mixed diet, and that the presence of tomato, an inferior but suitable host, makes it difficult to use potato. In contrast, when we forced beetles to switch between host species, their final mass was 37.8% less than the average of beetles fed constant diets of either host species and within 3.5% of the mass on tomato even though they also fed on potato. This indicates preventing host-selection behavior magnified the negative effects of this multi-species diet. Our results imply that ecological contexts that constrain host-selection or force host-switches, such as communities with competition or predation, will lead plant species diversity to reduce the performance of insect herbivores.

Tryjanowski P, Sparks TH, Blecharczyk A, Małecka-Jankowiak I, Switek S, Sawinska Z. American Journal of Potato Research. 2018;95(1):26-32. doi: 10.1007/s12230-017-9611-3.

Potato Solanum tuberosum is one of the world's four most important crops. Its cultivation is steadily increasing in response to the need to feed a growing world population. The yield of potato is influenced inter alia by both climate and pests. The main defoliator pest of potato is Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata. Using data from a long-term experiment (1958-2013) in western Poland, we show that increasing temperature has affected the trophic relationship between potato and Colorado potato beetle. The planting, leafing, flowering and harvest dates for potato were advanced, after controlling for different cultivars, by 2.00 days, 3.04 days, 3.80 days and 3.42 days respectively for every 1°C increase in temperature. In contrast, first treatment against Colorado potato beetle advanced by 4.66 days for every 1°C increase in temperature, and, furthermore, the number of treatments against the beetle increased by 0.204 per 1°C increase in temperature. This suggests that the beetle responds faster to increasing temperature than the plant does, but both parts of the system are probably greatly modified by farming practices.

Bozov PI, Georgieva YP. Natural Product Communications. 2017;12(3):327-328.

Fourteen neo-clerodane diterpenoids isolated from Scutellaria altissima (Lamiaceae) were tested for insect antifeedant activity against Leptinotarsa decemlineata Say. Potato leaf disks treated with small amounts of the compounds (concentration 1000, 100, 10 ppm) resulted in good to very good antifeedant activity. Clerodin (1), scutecyprin (11) and 11-epi-scutecolumnin C (12) showed strong feeding inhibition at 1000 ppm and exhibited significant antifeedant activity at a concentration of 100 ppm. Activity was established by calculating the feeding ratio (FR) between the consumed areas of treated disks (CTD) and control disks (CCD). For comparison, FR50 values were determined as the FR at a CCD of 50%. Structural features of the compounds associated with the changes in activity and structure-antifeedant activity relationships are discussed. For the first time the anti-feedant activity has been evaluated of neo-clerodane diterpenoids with an unusual R-configuration of the carbon atom C-11.