Sorghum 3-Deoxyanthocyanidin Flavonoids Confer Resistance against Corn Leaf Aphid

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In this study we examined the role of sorghum flavonoids in providing resistance against corn leaf aphid (CLA) Rhopalosiphum maidis. In sorghum, accumulation of these flavonoids is regulated by a MYB transcription factor, yellow seed1 (y1). Functional y1 alleles accumulate 3-deoxyflavonoids (3-DFs) and 3—deoxyanthocyanidins (3-DAs) whereas null y1 alleles fail to accumulate these compounds. We found that significantly higher numbers of alate CLA adults colonized null y1 plants as compared to functional y1 plants. Controlled cage experiments and pairwise choice assays demonstrated that apterous aphids preferred to feed and reproduce on null y1 plants. These near-isogenic sorghum lines do not differ in their epicuticular wax content and were also devoid of any leaf trichomes. Significantly higher mortality of CLA was observed on artificial aphid diet supplemented with flavonoids obtained from functional y1 plants as compared to null y1 plants or the relevant controls. Our results demonstrate that the proximate mechanism underlying the deleterious effects on aphids is y1-regulated flavonoids which are important defense compounds against CLA.


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Journal of Chemical Ecology