Nitrogen deficiency in barley (Hordeum vulgare) seedlings induces molecular and metabolic adjustments that trigger aphid resistance

Gloria Comadira, Brwa Rasool, Barbara Karpinska, Jenny Morris, Susan R. Verrall, Peter E. Hedley, Christine H. Foyer, Robert D. Hancock (Lead / Corresponding author)

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53 Citations (Scopus)
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Agricultural nitrous oxide (N2O) pollution resulting from the use of synthetic fertilizers represents a significant contribution to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, providing a rationale for reduced use of nitrogen (N) fertilizers. Nitrogen limitation results in extensive systems rebalancing that remodels metabolism and defence processes. To analyse the regulation underpinning these responses, barley (Horedeum vulgare) seedlings were grown for 7 d under N-deficient conditions until net photosynthesis was 50% lower than in N-replete controls. Although shoot growth was decreased there was no evidence for the induction of oxidative stress despite lower total concentrations of N-containing antioxidants. Nitrogen-deficient barley leaves were rich in amino acids, sugars and tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates. In contrast to N-replete leaves one-day-old nymphs of the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) failed to reach adulthood when transferred to N-deficient barley leaves. Transcripts encoding cell, sugar and nutrient signalling, protein degradation and secondary metabolism were over-represented in N-deficient leaves while those associated with hormone metabolism were similar under both nutrient regimes with the exception of mRNAs encoding proteins involved in auxin metabolism and responses. Significant similarities were observed between the N-limited barley leaf transcriptome and that of aphid-infested Arabidopsis leaves. These findings not only highlight significant similarities between biotic and abiotic stress signalling cascades but also identify potential targets for increasing aphid resistance with implications for the development of sustainable agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3639-3655
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2015


  • Cross-tolerance
  • Kinase cascades
  • Metabolite profiles
  • Myzus persicae
  • Nitrogen limitation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Sugar signalling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Physiology


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