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Disentangling transcriptional responses in plant defense against arthropod herbivores

The success in the response of a plant to a pest depends on the regulatory networks that connect plant perception and plant response. Meta-analyses of transcriptomic responses are valuable tools to discover novel mechanisms in the plant/herbivore interplay. Considering the quantity and quality of available transcriptomic analyses, Arabidopsis thaliana was selected to test the ability of comprehensive meta-analyses to disentangle plant responses. The analysis of the transcriptomic data showed a general induction of biological processes commonly associated with the response to herbivory, like jasmonate signaling or glucosinolate biosynthesis. However, an uneven induction of many genes belonging to these biological categories was found, which was likely associated with the particularities of each specific Arabidopsis-herbivore interaction. A thorough analysis of the responses to the lepidopteran Pieris rapae and the spider mite Tetranychus urticae highlighted specificities in the perception and signaling pathways associated with the expression of receptors and transcription factors. This information was translated to a variable alteration of secondary metabolic pathways. In conclusion, transcriptomic meta-analysis has been revealed as a potent way to sort out relevant physiological processes in the plant response to herbivores. Translation of these transcriptomic-based analyses to crop species will permit a more appropriate design of biotechnological programs.

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Original Paper:

Garcia, A., Santamaria, M.E., Diaz, I., Martinez, M. 2021. Disentangling transcriptional responses in plant defense against arthropod herbivores. Scientific Reports 11, 12996. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-92468-6

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