Discovery of the bicycle gene family provides new insights into insect manipulation of plant development during gall induction.
Holland PW., Langdale JA., Patel NH., Stone GN.
Galls are complex structures that develop from plant tissue, providing protection and food for gall-forming organisms, such as insects or mites. However, the molecules used by insects or mites to manipulate plant development have proved elusive. A landmark study has tracked down a gene in a gall-forming aphid that controls whether galls on witch hazel are green or red. The 'green allele' is strongly expressed in aphid salivary glands and represses plant genes used for red color formation. Excitingly, the gene product is part of a large suite of proteins that aphids may use to interact with plant biology.