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Keywords:

  • plant lectin;
  • insecticide effects;
  • feeding behavior;
  • tritrophic interactions;
  • binding proteins;
  • carbohydrate specificity;
  • glycobiology;
  • Lepidoptera;
  • Hemiptera;
  • transgenic crops

Abstract

Many plant lectins have high anti-insect potential. Although the effects of most lectins are only moderately influencing development or population growth of the insect, some lectins have strong insecticidal properties. In addition, some studies report a deterrent activity towards feeding and oviposition behavior. Transmission of plant lectins to the next trophic level has been investigated for several tritrophic interactions. Effects of lectins with different sugar specificities can vary substantially with the insect species under investigation and with the experimental setup. Lectin binding in the insect is an essential step in exerting a toxic effect. Attempts have been made to study the interactions of lectins in several insect tissues and to identify lectin-binding receptors. Ingested lectins generally bind to parts of the insect gut. Furthermore, some lectins such as the Galanthus nivalus agglutinin (GNA) cross the gut epithelium into the hemolymph and other tissues. Recently, several candidate lectin-binding receptors have been isolated from midgut extracts. To date little is known about the exact mechanism for insecticidal activity of plant lectins. However, insect glycobiology is an emerging research field and the recent technological advances in the analysis of lectin carbohydrate specificities and insect glycobiology will certainly lead to new insights in the interactions between plant lectins and insects, and to a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.