Journal Article

Global Transcriptome Analysis of Constitutive Resistance to the White Pine Weevil in Spruce

Sébastien Verne, Barry Jaquish, Rick White, Carol Ritland and Kermit Ritland

in Genome Biology and Evolution

Published on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution

Volume 3, issue , pages 851-867
Published in print January 2011 |
Published online August 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-6653 | DOI:

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  • Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
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Constitutive defense mechanisms are critical to the understanding of defense mechanisms in conifers because they constitute the first barrier to attacks by insect pests. In interior spruce, trees that are putatively resistant and susceptible to attacks by white pine weevil (Pissodes strobi) typically exhibit constitutive differences in traits such as resin duct size and number, bark thickness, and terpene content. To improve our knowledge of their genetic basis, we compared globally the constitutive expression levels of 17,825 genes between 20 putatively resistant and 20 putatively susceptible interior spruce trees from the British Columbia tree improvement program. We identified 54 upregulated and 137 downregulated genes in resistant phenotypes, relative to susceptible phenotypes, with a maximum fold change of 2.24 and 3.91, respectively. We found a puzzling increase of resistance by downregulated genes, as one would think that “procuring armaments” is the best defense. Also, although terpenes and phenolic compounds play an important role in conifer defense, we found few of these genes to be differentially expressed. We found 15 putative small heat-shock proteins (sHSP) and several other stress-related proteins to be downregulated in resistant trees. Downregulated putative sHSP belong to several sHSP classes and represented 58% of all tested putative sHSP. These proteins are well known to be involved in plant response to various kinds of abiotic stress; however, their role in constitutive resistance is not yet understood. The lack of correspondence between transcriptome profile clusters and phenotype classifications suggests that weevil resistance in spruce is a complex trait.

Keywords: gene expression levels; microarray; constitutive resistance; sHSP

Journal Article.  7388 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology ; Evolutionary Biology ; Genetics and Genomics

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