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Keywords:

  • Brevicoryne brassicae;
  • induced systemic resistance;
  • Myzus persicae;
  • phloem feeders;
  • plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria;
  • priming

Abstract

Beneficial microbes, such as plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and mycorrhizal fungi, may have a plant-mediated effect on insects aboveground. The plant growth-promoting rhizobacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens can induce systemic resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana against several microbial pathogens and chewing insects. However, the plant-mediated effect of these beneficial microbes on phloem-feeding insects is not well understood. Using Arabidopsis as a model, we here report that P. fluorescens has a positive effect on the performance (weight gain and intrinsic rate of increase) of the generalist aphid Myzus persicae, while no effect was recorded on the crucifer specialist aphid Brevicoryne brassicae. Additionally, transcriptional analyses of selected marker genes revealed that in the plant–microbe interaction with M. persicae, rhizobacteria (i) prime the plant for enhanced expression of LOX2, a gene involved in the jasmonic acid (JA)-regulated defence pathway, and (ii) suppress the expression of ABA1, a gene involved in the abscisic acid (ABA) signalling pathway, at several time points. In contrast, almost no effect of the plant–microbe interaction with B. brassicae was found at the transcriptional level. This study presents the first data on rhizobacteria-induced systemic susceptibility to an herbivorous insect, supporting the pattern proposed for other belowground beneficial microbes and aboveground phloem feeders. Moreover, we provide further evidence that at the transcript level, soil-borne microbes modify plant–aphid interactions.