In the current study, deterrent assay, contact bioassay, lethal concentration (LC) analysis and gene expression analysis were performed to reveal the repellent or insecticidal potential of M. alternifolia oil against M. persicae. M. alternifolia oil demonstrated an excellent deterrence index (0.8) at 2 g/L after 48 h. The oil demonstrated a pronounced contact mortality rate (72%) at a dose of 4 g/L after 24 h. Probit analysis was performed to estimate LC-values of M. alternifolia oil (40%) against M. persicae (LC30 = 0.115 g/L and LC50 = 0.37 g/L respectively) after 24 h. Furthermore, to probe changes in gene expression due to M. alternifolia oil contact in M. persicae, the expression of HSP 60, FPPS I, OSD, TOL and ANT genes were examined at doses of LC30 and LC50. Four out of the five selected genes-OSD, ANT, HSP 60 and FPPS I-showed upregulation at LC50, whereas, TOL gene showed maximum upregulation expression at LC30. Finally, the major components of M. alternifolia oil (terpinen-4-ol) were docked and MD simulated into the related proteins of the selected genes to explore ligand⁻protein modes of interactions and changes in gene expression. The results show that M. alternifolia oil has remarkable insecticidal and deterrent effects and also has the ability to affect the reproduction and development in M. persicae by binding to proteins.
Keywords: MD simulation; aphid; docking; essential oils; pest control; tea tree oil.