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    Specialist herbivores have often evolved highly sophisticated mechanisms to counteract defenses mediated by major plant secondary-metabolites. Plant species of the herbivore host range often display high chemical diversity and it is not well understood how specialist herbivores respond to this chemical diversity. Pieris larvae overcome toxic products from glucosinolate hydrolysis, the major chemical defense of their Brassicaceae hosts, by expressing nitrile-specifier proteins (NSP) in their gut. Furthermore, Pieris butterflies possess so-called major allergen (MA) proteins, which are multi-domain variants of a single domain major allergen (SDMA) protein expressed in the guts of Lepidopteran larvae. Here we show that Pieris larvae fine-tune NSP and MA gene expression depending on the glucosinolate profiles of their Brassicaceae hosts. Although the role of MA is not yet fully understood, the expression levels of NSP and MA in larvae that fed on plants whose glucosinolate composition varied was dramatically changed, whereas levels of SDMA expression remained unchanged. In addition, we found a similar regulation pattern among these genes in larvae feeding on Arabidopsis mutants with different glucosinolate profiles. Our results demonstrate that Pieris larvae appear to use different host plant adaptive genes to overcome a wide range of glucosinolate profiles in their host plants.


    Yu Okamura, Ai Sato, Natsumi Tsuzuki, Yuji Sawada, Masami Yokota Hirai, Hanna Heidel-Fischer, Michael Reichelt, Masashi Murakami, Heiko Vogel. Differential regulation of host plant adaptive genes in Pieris butterflies exposed to a range of glucosinolate profiles in their host plants. Scientific reports. 2019 May 10;9(1):7256

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    PMID: 31076616

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