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Article|01 Sep 2023|OPEN
A constitutive serine protease inhibitor suppresses herbivore performance in tea (Camellia sinensis)
Meng Ye1 , , Chuande Liu1 , Nana Li1 , Chenhong Yuan1 , Miaomiao Liu1 , Zhaojun Xin1 , Shu Lei1 and Xiaoling Sun,1 ,
1Key Laboratory of Biology, Genetics and Breeding of Special Economic Animals and Plants, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, National Center for Tea Plant Improvement, Tea Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Hangzhou 310008, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad178 (2023)
Views: 50

Received: 20 Dec 2022
Accepted: 25 Aug 2023
Published online: 01 Sep 2023


Protease inhibitors promote herbivore resistance in diverse plant species. Although many inducible protease inhibitors have been identified, there are limited reports available on the biological relevance and molecular basis of constitutive protease inhibitors in herbivore resistance. Here, we identified a serine protease inhibitor, CsSERPIN1, from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Expression of CsSERPIN1 was not strongly affected by the assessed biotic and abiotic stresses. In vitro and in vivo experiments showed that CsSERPIN1 strongly inhibited the activities of digestive protease activities of trypsin and chymotrypsin. Transient or heterologous expression of CsSERPIN1 significantly reduced herbivory by two destructive herbivores, the tea geometrid and fall armyworm, in tea and Arabidopsis plants, respectively. The expression of CsSERPIN1 in Arabidopsis did not negatively influence the growth of the plants under the measured parameters. Our findings suggest that CsSERPIN1 can inactivate gut digestive proteases and suppress the growth and development of herbivores, making it a promising candidate for pest prevention in agriculture.