Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 101, Issue 1–2, pp 163–182 | Cite as

Comparative transcriptome analyses provide novel insights into the differential response of Pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan L.) and its wild relative (Cajanus platycarpus (Benth.) Maesen) to herbivory by Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner)

  • Maniraj Rathinam
  • Pragya Mishra
  • Ajay Kumar Mahato
  • Nagendra Kumar Singh
  • Uma RaoEmail author
  • Rohini SreevathsaEmail author

Key message

Deeper insights into the resistance response of Cajanus platycarpus were obtained based on comparative transcriptomics under Helicoverpa armigera infestation.


Devastation by pod borer, Helicoverpa armigera is one of the major factors for stagnated productivity in Pigeonpea. Despite possessing a multitude of desirable traits including pod borer resistance, wild relatives of Cajanus spp. have remained under-utilized due to linkage drag and cross-incompatibility. Discovery and deployment of genes from them can provide means to tackle key pests like H. armigera. Transcriptomic differences between Cajanus platycarpus and Cajanus cajan during different time points (0, 18, 38, 96 h) of pod borer infestation were elucidated in this study. For the first ever time, we demonstrated captivating variations in their response; C. platycarpus apparently being reasonably agile with effectual transcriptomic reprogramming to deter the insect. Deeper insights into the differential response were obtained by identification of significant GO-terms related to herbivory followed by combined KEGG and ontology analyses. C. platycarpus portrayed a multilevel response with cardinal involvement of SAR, redox homeostasis and reconfiguration of primary metabolites leading to a comprehensive defense response. The credibility of RNA-seq analyses was ascertained by transient expression of selected putative insect resistance genes from C. platycarpus viz., chitinase (CHI4), Alpha-amylase/subtilisin inhibitor (IAAS) and Flavonoid 3_5 hydroxylase (C75A1) in Nicotiana benthamiana followed by efficacy analysis against H. armigera. qPCR validated results of the study provided innovative insights and useful leads for development of durable pod borer resistance.


Helicoverpa armigera Pigeonpea wild relatives Insect resistance RNA seq Cajanus spp. 


Author contributions

R.S., and U.R., conceptualized the work and designed experiments. M.R. designed and conducted in planta challenging experiments. P.M. conducted the expression analyses. M.R., P.M., and A.M. analysed the data. R.S., and M.R. wrote the draft manuscript. R.S., U.R., and N.K.S. critically edited the manuscript. All the authors have read and approved the final manuscript.


The authors acknowledge financial supported by DBT-Indo Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology (BT/IC-2/ISCB/Phase IV/01/Pigeon Pea/2015).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 90568 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 101,681 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 2978 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (PDF 215 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICAR-National Institute for Plant BiotechnologyNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Division of NematologyICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia

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