An Immuno-Suppressive Aphid Saliva Protein Is Delivered into the Cytosol of Plant Mesophyll Cells During Feeding.

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Herbivore selection of plant hosts and plant responses to insect colonization have been subjects of intense investigations. A growing body of evidence suggests that, for successful colonization to occur, (effector/virulence) proteins in insect saliva must modulate plant defense responses to the benefit of the insect. A range of insect saliva proteins that modulate plant defense responses have been identified, but there is no direct evidence that these proteins are delivered into specific plant tissues and enter plant cells. Aphids and other sap-sucking insects of the order Hemiptera use their specialized mouthparts (stylets) to probe plant mesophyll cells until they reach the phloem cells for long-term feeding. Here, we show, by immunogold-labeling of ultrathin sections of aphid feeding sites, that an immuno-suppressive aphid effector localizes in the cytoplasm of mesophyll cells near aphid stylets but not in cells further away from aphid feeding sites. In contrast, another aphid effector protein localizes in the sheaths composed of gelling saliva that surround the aphid stylets. Thus, insects deliver effectors directly into plant tissue. Moreover, different aphid effectors locate extracellularly in the sheath saliva or are introduced into the cytoplasm of plant cells. [Formula: see text] Copyright © 2016 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license .