Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.19, 7187-7199, 2021
Elicitation of biomolecules as host defense arsenals during insect attacks on tea plants (Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze)
The most consumed and economically important beverage plant, tea (Camellia sinensis), and its pests have coevolved so as to maintain the plant-insect interaction. In this review, findings of different research groups on pest responsive tolerance mechanisms that exist in tea manifested through the production of secondary metabolites and their inducers are presented. The phytochemicals of C. sinensis have been categorized into volatiles, nonvolatiles, enzymes, and phytohormones for convenience. Two types of pests, namely the piercing-sucking pests and chewing pests, are associated with tea. Both the insect groups can trigger the production of those metabolites and inducers through several primary and secondary biosynthetic pathways. These induced biomolecules can act as insect repellents and most of them are associated with lowering the nutrient quality of plant tissue and increasing the indigestibility in the pest's gut. Moreover, some of them also act as predator attractants of particular pests. The herbivore-induced plant volatiles secreted from tea plants during pest infestation were (E)-nerolidol, alpha-farnesene, (Z)-3-hexenol, (E)-4,8-dimethyl-1,3,7-nonatriene, indole, benzyl nitrile (BN), linalool, and ocimenes. The nonvolatiles like theaflavin and L-theanine were increased in response to the herbivore attack. Simultaneously, S-adenosyl-L-methionine synthase, caffeine synthase activities were affected, whereas flavonoid synthesis and wax formation were elevated. Defense responsive enzymes like peroxidase, polyphenol oxidase, phenylalanine ammonia-lyase, ascorbate peroxidase, and catalase are involved in pest prevention mechanisms. Phytohormones like jasmonic acid, salicylic acid, abscisic acid, and ethylene act as the modulator of the defense system. The objective of this review is to discuss the defensive roles of these metabolites and their inducers against pest infestation in tea with an aim to develop environmentally sustainable pesticides in the future.