We have developed a novel strategy for the introduction of durable insect resistance in crops. This strategy was based on intervention in the natural relationship between plants and insects. For many insects, including pests such as thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis), the flower is an important factor in their life cycle serving either as a food source or as a place, for mating. The insects are attracted to the flower by scent, which is mainly produced by the petals, and by the bright colour of these floral organs. We therefore anticipated that removal or changing the identity of the petals would significantly reduce the attractiveness of the flower to thrips. To test this hypothesis, we used cucumber as a model species because most modern varieties are parthenocarpic, in which the fruit develops without fertilization. The cucumber mutant green petals, in which the petals are homeotically transformed into green sepals, was particularly useful for this study The susceptibility of the cucumber plants to damage by thrips was determined by recording thrip numbers and by measuring leaf damage. Large differences were observed when greenhouse compartments with either wild-type or green petal mutant plants were compared. The rate of population growth of the insects on the mutant plants was significantly reduced and the leaves were almost undamaged. These results demonstrate that alterations in the structure of flowers may interfere with the life cycle of insects, providing the means for a novel and natural strategy for obtaining insect resistance.
|Titolo:||The use of floral homeotic mutants as a novel way to obtain durable resistance to insect pests|
|Parole Chiave:||western flower thrips; thrips resistance; floral homeotic mutant; cucumber|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2003|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||01 - Articolo su periodico|