Distinct Signatures of Host Defense Suppression by Plant-Feeding Mites

Schimmel, Bernardus C. J.; Alba, Juan; Wybouw, Nicky; Glas, Joris; Meijer, Tomas; Schuurink, Robert; Kant, Merijn (2018). Distinct Signatures of Host Defense Suppression by Plant-Feeding Mites. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(10), p. 3265. Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI 10.3390/ijms19103265

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Tomato plants are attacked by diverse herbivorous arthropods, including by cell-content-feeding mites, such as the extreme generalist Tetranychus urticae and specialists like Tetranychus evansi and Aculops lycopersici. Mite feeding induces plant defense responses that reduce mite performance. However, T. evansi and A. lycopersici suppress plant defenses via poorly understood mechanisms and, consequently, maintain a high performance on tomato. On a shared host, T. urticae can be facilitated by either of the specialist mites, likely due to the suppression of plant defenses. To better understand defense suppression and indirect plant-mediated interactions between herbivorous mites, we used gene-expression microarrays to analyze the transcriptomic changes in tomato after attack by either a single mite species (T. urticae, T. evansi, A. lycopersici) or two species simultaneously (T. urticae plus T. evansi or T. urticae plus A. lycopersici). Additionally, we assessed mite-induced changes in defense-associated phytohormones using LC-MS/MS. Compared to non-infested controls, jasmonates (JAs) and salicylate (SA) accumulated to higher amounts upon all mite-infestation treatments, but the response was attenuated after single infestations with defense-suppressors. Strikingly, whereas 8 to 10% of tomato genes were differentially expressed upon single infestations with T. urticae or A. lycopersici, respectively, only 0.1% was altered in T. evansi-infested plants. Transcriptome analysis of dual-infested leaves revealed that A. lycopersici primarily suppressed T. urticae-induced JA defenses, while T. evansi dampened T. urticae-triggered host responses on a transcriptome-wide scale. The latter suggests that T. evansi not solely down-regulates plant gene expression, but rather directs it back towards housekeeping levels. Our results provide valuable new insights into the mechanisms underlying host defense suppression and the plant-mediated facilitation of competing herbivores. View Full-Text

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Biotic Interactions
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Schimmel, Bernardus Cornelis J.


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)




Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI




Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

08 Nov 2018 08:39

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 20:27

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

comparative transcriptomics; defense suppression; dual infestation; facilitation; herbivore; plant defense; plant-mediated interactions; tomato red spider mite (Tetranychus evansi); tomato russet mite (Aculops lycopersici); two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae)





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