WRKY proteins, which belong to a large family of plant-specific transcription factors, play important roles in plant defenses against pathogens and herbivores by regulating defense-related signaling pathways. Recently, a rice WRKY transcription factor OsWRKY53 has been reported to function as a negative feedback modulator of OsMPK3/OsMPK6 and thereby to control the size of the investment a rice plant makes to defend against a chewing herbivore, the striped stem borer Chilo suppressalis. We investigated the performance of a piecing-sucking herbivore, the brown planthopper (BPH) Nilaparvata lugens, on transgenic plants that silence or overexpress OsWRKY53, and found that OsWRKY53 activates rice defenses against BPH by activating an H2O2 burst and suppressing ethylene biosynthesis. These findings suggest that OsWRKY53 functions not only as a regulator of plants' investment in specific defenses, but also as a switch to initiate new defenses against other stresses, highlighting the versatility and importance of OsWRKY53 in herbivore-induced plant defenses.
Keywords: Ethylene; H2O2; Nilaparvata lugens; OsWRKY53; plant defense response; rice.