Agasicles hygrophila attack increases nerolidol synthase gene expression in Alternanthera philoxeroides, facilitating host finding.
Herbivorous insects use plant volatile compounds to find their host plants for feeding and egg deposition. The monophagous beetle Agasicles hygrophila uses a volatile (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonanetriene (DMNT) to recognize its host plant Alternanthera philoxeroides. Alternanthera philoxeroides releases DMNT in response to A. hygrophila attack and nerolidol synthase (NES) is a key enzyme in DMNT biosynthesis; however, the effect of A. hygrophila on NES expression remains unclear. In this study, the A. philoxeroides transcriptome was sequenced and six putative NES genes belonging to the terpene synthase-g family were characterized. The expression of these NES genes was assayed at different times following A. hygrophila contact, feeding or mechanical wounding. Results showed that A. hygrophila contact and feeding induced NES expression more rapidly and more intensely than mechanical wounding alone. This may account for a large release of DMNT following A. hygrophila feeding in a previous study and subsequently facilitate A. hygrophila to find host plants. Our research provides a powerful genetic platform for studying invasive plants and lays the foundation for further elucidating the molecular mechanisms of the interaction between A. philoxeroides and its specialist A. hygrophila.