Distinct antimicrobial activities in aphid galls on Pistacia atlantica.Plant Signal Behav 2011; 6(12):2008-12PS
Gall-formers are parasitic organisms that manipulate plant traits for their own benefit. Galls have been shown to protect their inhabitants from natural enemies such as predators and parasitoids by various chemical and mechanical means. Much less attention, however, has been given to the possibility of defense against microbial pathogens in the humid and nutrient-rich gall environment. We found that the large, cauliflower-shaped, galls induced by the aphid Slavum wertheimae on buds of Pistacia atlantica trees express antibacterial and antifungal activities distinct from those found in leaves. Antibacterial activity was especially profound against Bacillus spp (a genus of many known insect pathogen) and against Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a known plant pathogen). Antifungal activity was also demonstrated against multiple filamentous fungi. Our results provide evidence for the protective antimicrobial role of galls. This remarkable antibacterial and antifungal activity in the galls of S. wertheimae may be of agricultural and pharmaceutical value.