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Many insect species sequester chemical defense metabolites from their host plants as defense against natural enemies, but so far, little is known about the molecular mechanisms of sequestration. Phyllotreta flea beetles are known to sequester intact glucosinolates, the characteristic defense compounds of Brassicaceae, from their food plants. This is surprising because glucosinolates are rapidly hydrolyzed to toxic isothiocyanates by the plant enzyme myrosinase in the damaged plant tissue ingested by the beetle. Rapid sequestration of glucosinolates may thus be an important strategy of Phyllotreta to overcome plant myrosinase activity and prevent glucosinolate activation. The goal of my project is to identify the glucosinolate transporters mediating the uptake of glucosinolates from the gut lumen into the gut tissue in Phyllotreta armoraciae. This will help us to answer the question whether rapid sequestration of glucosinolates is a key adaptation of P. armoraciae to the glucosinolate-myrosinase defense system.
last updated on 2016-11-26