Insect resistance against root herbivores like the western corn rootworm (WCR, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) is not well understood in non-transgenic maize. We studied the responses of two American maize inbreds, Mp708 and Tx601, to WCR infestation using biomechanical, molecular, biochemical analyses, and laser ablation tomography. Previous studies performed on several inbreds indicated that these two maize genotypes differed in resistance to pests including fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) and WCR. Our data confirmed that Mp708 shows resistance against WCR, and demonstrates that the resistance mechanism is based in a multi-trait phenotype that includes increased resistance to cutting in nodal roots, stable root growth during insect infestation, constitutive and induced expression of known herbivore-defense genes, including ribosomal inhibitor protein 2 (rip2), terpene synthase 23 (tps23) and maize insect resistance cysteine protease-1 (mir1), as well high constitutive levels of jasmonic acid and production of (E)-β-caryophyllene. In contrast, Tx601 is susceptible to WCR. These findings will facilitate the use of Mp708 as a model to explore the wide variety of mechanisms and traits involved in plant defense responses and resistance to herbivory by insects with several different feeding habits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics