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Virus-independent and common transcriptome responses of leafhopper vectors feeding on maize infected with semi-persistently and persistent propagatively transmitted viruses

Bryan J. Cassone, Saranga Wijeratne, Andrew P. Michel, Lucy R. Stewart, Yuting Chen, Pearlly Yan, Margaret G. Redinbaugh
BMC genomics 2014 v.15 pp. 133
Zea mays, messenger RNA, virus transmission, energy metabolism, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, host plants, corn, insect vectors, viruses, Maize chlorotic dwarf virus, Maize fine streak virus, immune response, transcriptome, Graminella nigrifrons, hemocoel, gene expression regulation
Insects are the most important epidemiological factors of plant virus disease spread, with >75% of the viruses dependent on insects for host transmission. However, little is known regarding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate the processes and efficiency of transmission. The black-faced leafhopper (Graminella nigrifrons) vectors two viruses that use different strategies for host transmission: the semi-persistently transmitted Maize chlorotic dwarf virus and the persistent propagatively transmitted Maize fine streak virus. In this study, next generation sequencing was used to reassemble the G. nigrifrons transcriptome and examine transcript changes in leafhoppers fed on MCDV-infected, MFSV-infected, and healthy maize for 4 h and 7 d. Feeding on MFSV-infected maize induced hemocoel and cell-membrane-linked immune responses in G. nigrifrons that were not elicited when feeding on MCDV-infected or healthy maize. Unexpectedly, feeding on maize infected with either virus for 4 h brought about a substantial, shared induction of core immunity and energy metabolism transcripts. This may indicate that the insect vector is responding to cellular, biochemical, and/or physiological changes in the host plant that are brought about by virus infection rather than directly by virus exposure. Changes in gene expression that occur independent of the mode of pathogen transmission could be important for identifying insect factors that disrupt vector-mediated plant virus transmission.