J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2012, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (5): 282-299.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2012.01107.x

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Metabolic Engineering of Plant-derived (E)-β-farnesene Synthase Genes for a Novel Type of Aphid-resistant Genetically Modified Crop Plants

Xiu-Dao Yu1, John Pickett2, You-Zhi Ma1, Toby Bruce2, Johnathan Napier2, Huw D. Jones2 and Lan-Qin Xia1*   

  1. 1Institute of Crop Sciences (ICS), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), 12 Zhongguancun South Street, Beijing 100081, China
    2Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ, UK
  • Received:2011-11-28 Accepted:2012-02-09 Published:2012-05-01
  • About author:*Corresponding author Tel: +86 10 8210 5804; E-mail: xialq@mail.caas.net.cn


Aphids are major agricultural pests that cause significant yield losses of crop plants each year. Excessive dependence on insecticides for long-term aphid control is undesirable because of the development of insecticide resistance, the potential negative effects on non-target organisms and environmental pollution. Transgenic crops engineered for resistance to aphids via a non-toxic mode of action could be an efficient alternative strategy. (E)-β-Farnesene (EβF) synthases catalyze the formation of EβF, which for many pest aphids is the main component of the alarm pheromone involved in the chemical communication within these species. EβF can also be synthesized by certain plants but is then normally contaminated with inhibitory compounds. Engineering of crop plants capable of synthesizing and emitting EβF could cause repulsion of aphids and also the attraction of natural enemies that use EβF as a foraging cue, thus minimizing aphid infestation. In this review, the effects of aphids on host plants, plants’ defenses against aphid herbivory and the recruitment of natural enemies for aphid control in an agricultural setting are briefly introduced. Furthermore, the plant-derived EβF synthase genes cloned to date along with their potential roles in generating novel aphid resistance via genetically modified approaches are discussed.

Yu XD, Pickett J, Ma YZ, Bruce T, Napier J, Jones HD, Xia LQ (2012) Metabolic engineering of plant-derived (E)-β-farnesene synthase genes for a novel type of aphid-resistant genetically modified crop plants. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 54(5), 282–299.

Key words: aphids, terpenoid, (E)-β-farnesene sythase, genetic-modified crops

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