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Data for: Phytochemical shift from condensed tannins to flavonoids in transgenic Betula pendula decreases consumption and growth but improves growth efficiency of Epirrita autumnata larvae

Citation

Thitz, Paula et al. (2019), Data for: Phytochemical shift from condensed tannins to flavonoids in transgenic Betula pendula decreases consumption and growth but improves growth efficiency of Epirrita autumnata larvae, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.4qrfj6q6c

Abstract

Despite active research, antiherbivore activity of specific plant phenolics remains largely unresolved. We constructed silver birch (Betula pendula) lines with modified phenolic metabolism to study the effects of foliar flavonoids and condensed tannins on consumption and growth of larvae of a generalist herbivore, the autumnal moth (Epirrita autumnata). We conducted a feeding experiment using birch lines in which expression of dihydroflavonol reductase (DFR), anthocyanidin synthase (ANS) or  anthocyanidin reductase (ANR) had been decreased by RNA interference. Modification-specific effects on plant phenolics, nutrients and phenotype, and on larval consumption and growth were analyzed using uni- and multivariate methods. Inhibiting DFR expression increased the concentration of flavonoids at the expense of condensed tannins, and silencing DFR and ANR decreased leaf and plant size. E. autumnata larvae consumed on average 82% less of DFRi plants than of unmodified controls, suggesting that flavonoids or glandular trichomes deter larval feeding. However, larval growth efficiency was highest on low-tannin DFRi plants, indicating that condensed tannins (or their monomers) are physiologically more harmful than non-tannin flavonoids for E. autumnata larvae. Our results show that genetic manipulation of the flavonoid pathway in  plants can effectively be used to produce altered phenolic profiles required for elucidating the roles of low-molecular weight phenolics and condensed tannins in plant–herbivore relationships, and suggest that phenolic secondary metabolites participate in regulation of plant growth.

Methods

RNA interference (RNAi) of DFR, ANS and ANR was used to create Betula pendula constructs with altered phenylpropanoid pathway. Preweighted late-instar Epirrita autumnata were allowed to feed on intact Betula pendula plants for 48 hours in growth chambers, after which their consumption (leaf area lost from plants) and final weight was recorded, and plant samples were taken for chemical and morphological analyses, after each chamber experiment including the unmodified control and 3-4 RNAi replicate lines per construct.

Usage Notes

This data is collected from three feeding experiments conducted in growth chambers in eastern Finland. It includes plant chemical and morphological parameters and larval parameters (variables described in scripts). The subset of plant-larva pairs, scripts and parameter estimates related to analyses in https://doi.org/10.1007/s10886-019-01134-9 are also provided.

Funding

Academy of Finland, Award: 267360

Suomen Kulttuurirahasto

Jenny ja Antti Wihurin Rahasto

Tiina ja Antti Herlinin säätiö

Niemi-säätiö