Responses of Brassica oleracea cultivars to infestation by the aphid Brevicoryne brassicae: an ecological and molecular approach

Broekgaarden, C.; Poelman, E.H.; Steenhuis, M.M.; Voorrips, R.E.; Dicke, M.; Vosman, B.


Intraspecific variation in resistance or susceptibility to herbivorous insects has been widely studied through bioassays. However, few studies have combined this with a full transcriptomic analysis. Here, we take such an approach to study the interaction between the aphid Brevicoryne brassicae and four white cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) cultivars. Both under glasshouse and field conditions, two of the cultivars clearly supported a faster aphid population development than the other two, indicating that aphid population development was largely independent of the environmental conditions. Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis using 70-mer oligonucleotide microarrays based on the Arabidopsis thaliana genome showed that only a small number of genes were differentially regulated, and that this regulation was highly cultivar specific. The temporal pattern in the expression behaviour of two B. brassicae-responsive genes in all four cultivars together with targeted studies employing A. thaliana knockout mutants revealed a possible role for a trypsin-and-protease inhibitor in defence against B. brassicae. Conversely, a xyloglucan endotransglucosylase seemed to have no effect on aphid performance. Overall, this study shows clear intraspecific variation in B. brassicae susceptibility among B. oleracea cultivars under glasshouse and field conditions that can be partly explained by certain differences in induced transcriptional changes.