Increased pest resistance in oilseed rape mediated by an enhanced UV-B response

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


Attack by various pests and pathogens causes significant losses to the oilseed rape crop and considerable expense is incurred in trying to counter this problem by using pesticides. The aim of this project is to develop a novel approach to increase resistance to pest attack in oilseed rape by hyper-activation of UV-B and/or jasmonic acid (JA) signalling pathways. Exposure of plants to UV-B wavelengths reduces the attractiveness of plants to insect herbivores. Plant responses to UV-B are mediated through several signalling pathways and hyper-activation of particular pathways may increase resistance to herbivory. Jasmonic acid, which is involved in some responses to UV-B stimulates defence against attack by herbivores. We will produce transgenic lines of B. napus over-expressing the UV-B-specific regulator UVR8 and a key effector of JA signalling, the transcription factor MYC2. We will test whether these lines have increased resistance to invertebrate pests as 'proof of concept' that manipulation of the UV-B response could be used to develop new varieties. For the mollusc trials, slugs (Arion and/or Deroceras spp.) and snails (Helix aspersa) will be placed into test arenas and the damage levels recorded per plant. Damage caused by Diamond back moth (Plutella xylostella) larvae and mealy cabbage aphid (Brevicoryne brassicae) will also be recorded. We will identify key changes in gene expression profiles using transcriptomics and levels of secondary metabolites involved in resistance to herbivory in the over-expression lines. This will enable gene targets regulated by UV-B, JA and herbivory to be identified and provide detailed information on the consequences of manipulating two key regulators of UV-B responses for the molecular signalling network of B. napus. The results will test transgenic approaches, and establish whether selection for enhanced UV-B response could be used in conventional breeding approaches to improve pest resistance in B. napus crop improvement.


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