A functional genomics approach to dissect spotted alfalfa aphid resistance in Medicago truncatula

Silke Jacques, Jana Sperschneider, Gagan Garg, Louise F. Thatcher, Ling Ling Gao, Lars G. Kamphuis, Karam B. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aphids are virus-spreading insect pests affecting crops worldwide and their fast population build-up and insecticide resistance make them problematic to control. Here, we aim to understand the molecular basis of spotted alfalfa aphid (SAA) or Therioaphis trifolii f. maculata resistance in Medicago truncatula, a model organism for legume species. We compared susceptible and resistant near isogenic Medicago lines upon SAA feeding via transcriptome sequencing. Expression of genes involved in defense and stress responses, protein kinase activity and DNA binding were enriched in the resistant line. Potentially underlying some of these changes in gene expression was the finding that members of the MYB, NAC, AP2 domain and ERF transcription factor gene families were differentially expressed in the resistant versus susceptible lines. A TILLING population created in the resistant cultivar was screened using exome capture sequencing and served as a reverse genetics tool to functionally characterise genes involved in the aphid resistance response. This screening revealed three transcription factors (a NAC, AP2 domain and ERF) as important regulators in the defence response, as a premature stop-codon in the resistant background led to a delay in aphid mortality and enhanced plant susceptibility. This combined functional genomics approach will facilitate the future development of pest resistant crops by uncovering candidate target genes that can convey enhanced aphid resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22159
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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