Rice is one of the world’s most important foods, but its production suffers from insect pests, causing losses of billions of dollars, and extensive use of environmentally damaging pesticides for their control 1,2 . However, the molecular mechanisms of insect resistance remain elusive. Although a few resistance genes for planthopper have been cloned, no rice germplasm is resistant to stem borers. Here, we report that biosynthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in mammals 3 , is induced by insect infestation in rice, and its suppression confers resistance to planthoppers and stem borers, the two most destructive pests of rice 2 . Serotonin and salicylic acid derive from chorismate 4 . In rice, the cytochrome P450 gene CYP71A1 encodes tryptamine 5-hydroxylase, which catalyses conversion of tryptamine to serotonin 5 . In susceptible wild-type rice, planthopper feeding induces biosynthesis of serotonin and salicylic acid, whereas in mutants with an inactivated CYP71A1 gene, no serotonin is produced, salicylic acid levels are higher and plants are more insect resistant. The addition of serotonin to the resistant rice mutant and other brown planthopper-resistant genotypes results in a loss of insect resistance. Similarly, serotonin supplementation in artificial diet enhances the performance of both insects. These insights demonstrate that regulation of serotonin biosynthesis plays an important role in defence, and may prove valuable for breeding insect-resistant cultivars of rice and other cereal crops.
Nature Plants – Springer Journals
Published: May 7, 2018
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