Hosting certain facultative symbionts modulate the phenoloxidase activity and immune response of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum


  • Luo Chen
  • Belghazi Maya
  • Schmitt Antonin
  • Lemauf Séverine
  • Desneux Nicolas
  • Simon Jean-Christophe
  • Poirie Marylène
  • Gatti Jean-Luc


  • Acyrthosiphon pisum
  • Facultative symbionts
  • Hemolymph
  • Immune response
  • Pea aphid
  • Phenoloxidases


The pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum hosts different facultative symbionts (FS) which provide it with various benefits, such as tolerance to heat or protection against natural enemies (e.g. fungi, parasitoid wasps). Here, we investigated whether and how the presence of certain FS could affect phenoloxidase activity, a key component of insect innate immunity, under normal and stressed conditions. For this, we used clones of A. pisum of different genetic backgrounds (LL01, YR2 and T3-8V1) lacking FS or harboring one or two (Regiella insecticola, Hamiltonella defensa, Serratia symbiotica + Rickettsiella viridis). Gene expression and proteomics analyses of the aphid hemolymph indicated that the two A. pisum phenoloxidases, PPO1 and PPO2, are expressed and translated into proteins. The level of PPO genes expression as well as the amount of PPO proteins and phenoloxidase activity in the hemolymph depended on both the aphid genotype and FS species. In particular, H. defensa and R. insecticola, but not S. symbiotica + R. viridis, caused a sharp decrease in PO activity by interfering with both transcription and translation. The microinjection of different types of stressors (yeast, Escherichia coli, latex beads) in the YR2 lines hosting different symbionts affected the survival rate of aphids and, in most cases, also decreased the expression of PPO genes after 24 h. The amount and activity of PPO proteins varied according to the type of FS and stressor, without clear corresponding changes in gene expression. These data demonstrate that the presence of certain facultative symbionts influences an important component of pea aphid immunity.

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