Chickpea (C. arietinum L.) is an important pulse crop in Asian and African countries that suffers significant yield losses due to attacks by insects like H. armigera. To obtain insights into early responses of chickpea to insect attack, a transcriptomic analysis of chickpea leaves just 20 minutes after simulated herbivory was performed, using oral secretions of H. armigera coupled with mechanical wounding. Expression profiles revealed differential regulation of 8.4% of the total leaf transcriptome with 1334 genes up-regulated and 501 down-regulated upon wounding at log2-fold change (|FC| ≤ −1 and ≥1) and FDR value ≤ 0.05. In silico analysis showed the activation of defenses through up-regulation of genes of the phenylpropanoid pathway, pathogenesis, oxidases and CYTP450 besides differential regulation of kinases, phosphatases and transcription factors of the WRKY, MYB, ERFs, bZIP families. A substantial change in the regulation of hormonal networks was observed with up-regulation of JA and ethylene pathways and suppression of growth associated hormone pathways like GA and auxin within 20 minutes of wounding. Secondary qPCR comparison of selected genes showed that oral secretions often increased differential expression relative to mechanical damage alone. The studies provide new insights into early wound responses in chickpea.
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