Aphids are major agricultural pests that cause significant yield losses of crop plants each year. Excessive dependence on insecticides for long-term aphid control is undesirable because of the development of insecticide resistance, the potential negative effects on non-target organisms and environmental pollution. Transgenic crops engineered for resistance to aphids via a non-toxic mode of action could be an efficient alternative strategy. (E)-beta-Farnesene (E beta F) synthases catalyze the formation of E beta F, which for many pest aphids is the main component of the alarm pheromone involved in the chemical communication within these species. E beta F can also be synthesized by certain plants but is then normally contaminated with inhibitory compounds. Engineering of crop plants capable of synthesizing and emitting E beta F could cause repulsion of aphids and also the attraction of natural enemies that use E beta F as a foraging cue, thus minimizing aphid infestation. In this review, the effects of aphids on host plants, plants defenses against aphid herbivory and the recruitment of natural enemies for aphid control in an agricultural setting are briefly introduced. Furthermore, the plant-derived E beta F synthase genes cloned to date along with their potential roles in generating novel aphid resistance via genetically modified approaches are discussed.
[ Lan-Qin Xia (Corresponding author)]