The Effect of Diet on Midgut and Resulting Changes in Infectiousness of AcMNPV Baculovirus in the Cabbage Looper, Trichoplusia ni
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Insecticide resistance has been reported in many important agricultural pests, and alternative management methods are required. Baculoviruses qualify as an effective, yet environmentally benign, biocontrol agent but their efficacy against generalist herbivores may be influenced by diet. However, few studies have investigated the tritrophic interactions of plant, pest, and pathogen from both a gene expression and physiological perspective. Here we use microscopy and transcriptomics to examine how diet affects the structure of peritrophic matrix (PM) in Trichoplusia ni larvae and consequently their susceptibility to the baculovirus, AcMNPV. Larvae raised on potato leaves had lower transcript levels for chitinase and chitin deacetylase genes, and possessed a thicker and more multi-layered PM than those raised on cabbage or artificial diet, which could contribute to their significantly lower susceptibility to the baculovirus. The consequences of these changes underline the importance of considering dietary influences on pathogen susceptibility in pest management strategies.
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