Flavonoids synthesized by the phenylpropanoid pathway participate in myriad physiological and biochemical processes in plants. Due to the diversity of secondary transformations and the complexity of the regulation of branched pathways, single gene strategies have not been very successful in enhancing the accumulation of targeted molecules. We have expressed an Arabidopsis ( Arabidopsis thaliana ) transcription factor, AtMYB12 , in tobacco ( Nicotiana tabacum ), which resulted in enhanced expression of genes involved in the phenylpropanoid pathway, leading to severalfold higher accumulation of flavonols. Global gene expression and limited metabolite profiling of leaves in the transgenic lines of tobacco revealed that AtMYB12 regulated a number of pathways, leading to flux availability for the phenylpropanoid pathway in general and flavonol biosynthesis in particular. The tobacco transgenic lines developed resistance against the insect pests Spodoptera litura and Helicoverpa armigera due to enhanced accumulation of rutin. Suppression of flavonol biosynthesis by artificial microRNA reversed insect resistance of the AtMYB12- expressing tobacco plants. Our study suggests that AtMYB12 can be strategically used for developing safer insect pest-resistant transgenic plants.
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