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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Release of moth pheromone compounds from Nicotiana benthamiana upon transient expression of heterologous biosynthetic genes

Xia, Yi-Han; Ding, Bao-Jian; Dong, Shuang-Lin; Wang, Hong-Lei; Hofvander, Per; Lofstedt, Christer


Background Using genetically modified plants as natural dispensers of insect pheromones may eventually become part of a novel strategy for integrated pest management. Results In the present study, we first characterized essential functional genes for sex pheromone biosynthesis in the rice stem borer Chilo suppressalis (Walker) by heterologous expression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Nicotiana benthamiana, including two desaturase genes CsupYPAQ and CsupKPSE and a reductase gene CsupFAR2. Subsequently, we co-expressed CsupYPAQ and CsupFAR2 together with the previously characterized moth desaturase Atr increment 11 in N. benthamiana. This resulted in the production of (Z)-11-hexadecenol together with (Z)-11-hexadecenal, the major pheromone component of C. suppressalis. Both compounds were collected from the transformed N. benthamiana headspace volatiles using solid-phase microextraction. We finally added the expression of a yeast acetyltransferase gene ATF1 and could then confirm also (Z)-11-hexadecenyl acetate release from the plant. Conclusions Our results pave the way for stable transformation of plants to be used as biological pheromone sources in different pest control strategies.


Functional characterization; Fatty acyl desaturases; Fatty acyl reductase; Alcohol oxidation; Acetyltransferase; Heterologous expression systems; Pheromone-releasing plants

Published in

BMC Biology
2022, volume: 20, number: 1, article number: 80
Publisher: BMC

Authors' information

Xia, Yi-Han
League of European Research Universities - LERU
Xia, Yi-Han
Chalmers University of Technology
Ding, Bao-Jian
Lund University
Dong, Shuang-Lin
Nanjing Agricultural University
Wang, Hong-Lei
League of European Research Universities - LERU
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding
Lofstedt, Christer
League of European Research Universities - LERU

UKÄ Subject classification

Plant Biotechnology

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