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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Academic Staff

Publication details for Professor John A. Gatehouse

Pyati, Prashant, Chellamuthu, Anitha, Gatehouse, Angharad M. R., Fitches, Elaine & Gatehouse, John A. (2012). Insecticidal activity of wheat Hessian fly responsive proteins HFR-1 and HFR-3 towards a non-target wheat pest, cereal aphid (Sitobion avenae F.). Journal of Insect Physiology 58(7): 991-999.

Author(s) from Durham


The interaction between Hessian fly (Mayetiola destructor) and wheat (Triticum aestivum) involves a gene-for-gene resistance mechanism. The incompatible interaction leading to resistance involves up-regulation of several Hfr (Hessian fly responsive) genes encoding proteins with potential insecticidal activity. The encoded proteins HFR-1, HFR-2 and HFR-3 all possess lectin-like domains. HFR-1 and HFR-3 were produced as recombinant proteins using Escherichia coli and Pichia pastoris, respectively as expression hosts. Purified recombinant proteins were assayed for insecticidal effects towards cereal aphid (Sitobion avenae), an insect to which wheat shows only tolerance. Both HFR-1 and HFR-3 were found to be insecticidal towards S. avenae when fed in artificial diet. Although HFR-3 has sequence similarity and similar chitin-binding activity to wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), the latter protein was almost non-toxic to S. avenae. HFR-3 binds strongly to aphid midguts after ingestion, whereas WGA binds but does not persist over a feed-chase period. Quantitative PCR showed that Hfr-3 mRNA does not increase in level after cereal aphid infestation. The results suggest that the lack of effective resistance to cereal aphid in wheat is not due to an absence of genes encoding suitable insecticidal proteins, but results from a failure to up-regulate gene expression in response to aphid attack.