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Resistance of rice to insect pests mediated by suppression of serotonin biosynthesis

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Angharad MR GatehouseORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


© 2018 The Author(s) Rice is one of the world’s most important foods, but its production suffers from insect pests, causing losses of billions of dollars, and extensive use of environmentally damaging pesticides for their control1,2. However, the molecular mechanisms of insect resistance remain elusive. Although a few resistance genes for planthopper have been cloned, no rice germplasm is resistant to stem borers. Here, we report that biosynthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in mammals3, is induced by insect infestation in rice, and its suppression confers resistance to planthoppers and stem borers, the two most destructive pests of rice2. Serotonin and salicylic acid derive from chorismate4. In rice, the cytochrome P450 gene CYP71A1 encodes tryptamine 5-hydroxylase, which catalyses conversion of tryptamine to serotonin5. In susceptible wild-type rice, planthopper feeding induces biosynthesis of serotonin and salicylic acid, whereas in mutants with an inactivated CYP71A1 gene, no serotonin is produced, salicylic acid levels are higher and plants are more insect resistant. The addition of serotonin to the resistant rice mutant and other brown planthopper-resistant genotypes results in a loss of insect resistance. Similarly, serotonin supplementation in artificial diet enhances the performance of both insects. These insights demonstrate that regulation of serotonin biosynthesis plays an important role in defence, and may prove valuable for breeding insect-resistant cultivars of rice and other cereal crops.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lu H-P, Luo T, Fu H-W, Wang L, Tan Y-Y, Huang J-Z, Wang Q, Ye G-Y, Gatehouse AMR, Lou Y-G, Shu Q-Y

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature Plants

Year: 2018

Volume: 4

Pages: 338-344

Online publication date: 07/05/2018

Acceptance date: 13/04/2018

Date deposited: 11/06/2018

ISSN (electronic): 2055-0278

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.


DOI: 10.1038/s41477-018-0152-7


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