Aphids are amongst the most devastating sap-feeding insects of plants. Like most plant parasites, aphids require intimate associations with their host plants to gain access to nutrients. Aphid feeding induces responses such as clogging of phloem sieve elements and callose formation, which are suppressed by unknown molecules, probably proteins, in aphid saliva. Therefore, it is likely that aphids, like plant pathogens, deliver proteins (effectors) inside their hosts to modulate host cell processes, suppress plant defenses, and promote infestation. We exploited publicly available aphid salivary gland expressed sequence tags (ESTs) to apply a functional genomics approach for identification of candidate effectors from Myzus persicae (green peach aphid), based on common features of plant pathogen effectors. A total of 48 effector candidates were identified, cloned, and subjected to transient overexpression in Nicotiana benthamiana to assay for elicitation of a phenotype, suppression of the Pathogen-Associated Molecular Pattern (PAMP)-mediated oxidative burst, and effects on aphid reproductive performance. We identified one candidate effector, Mp10, which specifically induced chlorosis and local cell death in N. benthamiana and conferred avirulence to recombinant Potato virus X (PVX) expressing Mp10, PVX-Mp10, in N. tabacum, indicating that this protein may trigger plant defenses. The ubiquitin-ligase associated protein SGT1 was required for the Mp10-mediated chlorosis response in N. benthamiana. Mp10 also suppressed the oxidative burst induced by flg22, but not by chitin. Aphid fecundity assays revealed that in planta overexpression of Mp10 and Mp42 reduced aphid fecundity, whereas another effector candidate, MpC002, enhanced aphid fecundity. Thus, these results suggest that, although Mp10 suppresses flg22-triggered immunity, it triggers a defense response, resulting in an overall decrease in aphid performance in the fecundity assays. Overall, we identified aphid salivary proteins that share features with plant pathogen effectors and therefore may function as aphid effectors by perturbing host cellular processes.
Bos, J. I. B., Prince, D., Pitino, M., Maffei, M. E., Win, J., & Hogenhout, S. A. (2010). A functional genomics approach identifies candidate effectors from the aphid species Myzus persicae (green peach aphid). PLoS Genetics, 6(11), [e1001216]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1001216