Terpene Down-Regulation in Orange Reveals the Role of Fruit Aromas in Mediating Interactions with Insect Herbivores and Pathogens
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AutorRodriguez,Ana; San Andres,Victoria; Cervera,Magdalena; Redondo,Ana; Alquezar,Berta; Shimada,Takehiko; Gadea,Jose; Jesus Rodrigo,Maria; Zacarias,Lorenzo; Palou,Lluis; Lopez,Maria M.; Castanera,Pedro; Pena,Leandro
Plants use volatile terpene compounds as odor cues for communicating with the environment. Fleshy fruits are particularly rich in volatiles that deter herbivores and attract seed dispersal agents. We have investigated how terpenes in citrus fruit peels affect the interaction between the plant, insects, and microorganisms. Because limonene represents up to 97% of the total volatiles in orange (Citrus sinensis) fruit peel, we chose to down-regulate the expression of a limonene synthase gene in orange plants by introducing an antisense construct of this gene. Transgenic fruits showed reduced accumulation of limonene in the peel. When these fruits were challenged with either the fungus Penicillium digitatum or with the bacterium Xanthomonas citri subsp. citri, they showed marked resistance against these pathogens that were unable to infect the peel tissues. Moreover, males of the citrus pest medfly (Ceratitis capitata) were less attracted to low limonene-expressing fruits than to control fruits. These results indicate that limonene accumulation in the peel of citrus fruit appears to be involved in the successful trophic interaction between fruits, insects, and microorganisms. Terpene down-regulation might be a strategy to generate broad-spectrum resistance against pests and pathogens in fleshy fruits from economically important crops. In addition, terpene engineering may be important for studying the basic ecological interactions between fruits, herbivores, and pathogens.