Plant carotenoid derived β-ionone has been shown to have diverse biological effects on some insect herbivores and herbivore parasitoids. In this study, Arabidopsis transgenic plants over-expressing a carotenoid cleavage dioxygenasel gene (AtCCD1) were generated to test whether β-ionone emissions could be enhanced and used to control feeding by the crucifer flea beetle (Phyllotreta cruciferae Goeze). The transgenic plants exhibited a morphological phenotype indistinguishable from the wild type (WT) control over their complete life cycle. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry analyses of headspace volatiles collected from 6-wk-old intact flowering plants revealed substantially enhanced β-ionone emission from transgenic plants compared with WT, but no β-ionone enhancement occurred at a young vegetative stage (4-wk-old seedlings). Bioassays in an enclosed environment showed that ATCCD1 over-expression resulted in ≈50% less leaf area damage by flea beetles on transgenic plants compared with WT plants. The mean number of damaged transgenic leaves per plant also was significantly lower in transgenic plants (P < 0.05). Our results indicate that AtCCD1 over-expression and induced β-ionone emission might find application in the control of pests for Brassica crops grown in greenhouse operations. Potentially, β-ionone also could be used on crops grown in open-air ecosystems if this allomone is released in sufficient quantities to discourage herbivore foragers.
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Vol. 40 • No. 6