Comparative transcriptomics reveals hidden issues in the plant/pest interaction

Here, we show the potential of combining: i) high throughput transcriptomic data of the Arabidopsis response to a pest, the spider mite Tetranychus urticae, with ii) a meta-analysis of the Arabidopsis responses to other herbivore species. Novel relevant processes in the plant response to the spider mite were discovered.


Plants experience different abiotic/biotic stresses, which trigger their molecular machinery to cope with them. Besides general mechanisms prompted by many stresses, specific mechanisms have been introduced to optimize the response to individual threats. However, these key mechanisms are difficult to identify. Here, we introduce an in-depth species-specific transcriptomic analysis and conduct an extensive meta-analysis of the responses to related species to gain more knowledge about plant responses. The spider mite Tetranychus urticae was used as the individual species, several arthropod herbivores as the related species for meta-analysis, and Arabidopsis thaliana plants as the common host. The analysis of the transcriptomic data showed typical common responses to herbivory, such as jasmonate signaling or glucosinolate biosynthesis. Also, a specific set of genes likely involved in the particularities of the Arabidopsis-spider mite interaction was discovered. The new findings have determined a prominent role in this interaction of the jasmonate-induced pathways leading to the biosynthesis of anthocyanins and tocopherols. Therefore, tandem individual/general transcriptomic profiling has been revealed as an effective method to identify novel relevant processes and specificities in the plant response to environmental stresses.


Original Paper:

Santamaria, ME., Garcia, A., Arnaiz, A., Rosa-Diaz, I ., Romero-Hernandez, G., Diaz, I., Martinez, M. 2020. Comparative transcriptomics reveals hidden issues in the plant response to arthropod herbivores. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology. DOI: 10.1111/jipb.13026