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To be or not to be convergent in salicin-based defence in chrysomeline leaf beetle larvae

Evidence from Phratora vitellinae salicyl alcohol oxidase
: Kirsch, R.; Vogel, H.; Muck, A.; Vilcinskas, A.; Pasteels, J.M.; Boland, W.

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: Series B, Biological sciences 278 (2011), No.1722, pp.3225-3232
ISSN: 0080-4649
ISSN: 0962-8452
ISSN: 0950-1193
ISSN: 1471-2954
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IME ()

Glandular chemical defence relying on the action of salicylaldehyde is characteristic for Chrysomela leaf beetle larvae. The salicylaldehyde precursor salicin, sequestered from salicaceous host plants, is deglucosylated and the aglycon further oxidized by a salicyl alcohol oxidase (SAO) to the respective aldehyde. SAOs, key enzymes in salicin-based glandular chemical defence, were previously identified and shown to be of a single evolutionary origin in Chrysomela species. We here identified and characterized SAO of Phratora vitellinae, the only species outside the genus Chrysomela that produce salicylaldehyde as a defensive compound. Although Chrysomela and Phratora are not closest relatives, their SAOs share glucose-methanol-choline oxidoreductase (GMC) affiliation, a specific GMCi subfamily ancestor, glandular tissue-specific expression and almost identical gene architectures. Together, this strongly supports a single origin of SAOs of both Chrysomela and Phratora. Closely related species of Chrysomela and P. vitellinae use iridoids as defensive compounds, which are like salicylaldehyde synthesized by the consecutive action of glucosidase and oxidase. However, we elucidated SAO-like sequences but no SAO proteins in the glandular secretion of iridoid producers. These findings support a different evolutionary history of SAO, related genes and other oxidases involved in chemical defence in the glandular system of salicylaldehyde and iridoid-producing leaf beetle larvae.