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Eastern spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferiana Clemens) (ESBW) is a major forest pest which feeds on young shoots of white spruce (Picea glauca) and can cause landscape level economic and ecological losses. Release of acetophenone metabolites, piceol and pungenol, from their corresponding glycosides, picein and pungenin, can confer natural resistance of spruce to ESBW. A beta-glucosidase gene, Pgβglu-1, was recently discovered and the encoded enzyme was characterized in vitro to function in the release of the defensive acetophenone aglycons. Here we describe overexpression of Pgβglu-1 in a white spruce genotype whose metabolome contains the glucosylated acetophenones, but no detectable amounts of the aglycons. Transgenic overexpression of Pgβglu-1 resulted in release of the acetophenone aglycons in planta. This work provides in vivo evidence for the function of Pgβglu-1.

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Journal article



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Beta-glucosidase, Conifer defense, Picea glauca, Spruce budworm, Transgenic spruce