Mechanisms of Isothiocyanate Detoxification in Larvae of Two Belowground Herbivores, and (Diptera: Anthomyiidae).

TitleMechanisms of Isothiocyanate Detoxification in Larvae of Two Belowground Herbivores, and (Diptera: Anthomyiidae).
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsSontowski, R, Guyomar, C, Poeschl, Y, Weinhold, A, van Dam, NM, Vassão, DG
JournalFront Physiol
Date Published2022

Like aboveground herbivores, belowground herbivores are confronted with multiple plant defense mechanisms including complex chemical cocktails in plant tissue. Roots and shoots of Brassicaceae plants contain the two-component glucosinolate (GSL)-myrosinase defense system. Upon cell damage, for example by herbivore feeding, toxic and pungent isothiocyanates (ITCs) can be formed. Several aboveground-feeding herbivores have developed biochemical adaptation strategies to overcome the GSL-ITC defenses of their host plant. Whether belowground herbivores feeding on roots possess similar mechanisms has received little attention. Here, we analyze how two related belowground specialist herbivores detoxify the GSL-ITC defenses of their host plants. The larvae of the fly species and are common pests and specialized herbivores on the roots of Brassicaceae. We used chemical analyses (HPLC-MS/MS and HPLC-UV) to examine how the GSL-ITC defense system is metabolized by these congeneric larvae. In addition, we screened for candidate genes involved in the detoxification process using RNAseq and qPCR. The chemical analyses yielded glutathione conjugates and amines. This indicates that both species detoxify ITCs using potentially the general mercapturic acid pathway, which is also found in aboveground herbivores, and an ITC-specific hydrolytic pathway previously characterized in microbes. Performance assays confirmed that ITCs negatively affect the survival of both species, in spite of their known specialization to ITC-producing plants and tissues, whereas ITC breakdown products are less toxic. Interestingly, the RNAseq analyses showed that the two congeneric species activate different sets of genes upon ITC exposure, which was supported by qPCR data. Based on our findings, we conclude that these specialist larvae use combinations of general and compound-specific detoxification mechanisms with differing efficacies and substrate preferences. This indicates that combining detoxification mechanisms can be an evolutionarily successful strategy to handle plant defenses in herbivores.

Alternate JournalFront Physiol
PubMed ID35574438
PubMed Central IDPMC9098826