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Research Project: Biologically-Based Products for Insect Pest Control and Emerging Needs in Agriculture

Location: Biological Control of Insects Research

Title: Comparative genomic analysis of carboxylesterase genes in Tenebrio molitor and four other tenebrioinids

item YANG, YAN-LIN - Southwest Forestry University
item LI, XUN - Southwest Forestry University
item WANG, JUN - Southwest Forestry University
item SONG, QI-SHENG - University Of Missouri
item Stanley, David
item WEI, SHU-JUN - Southwest Forestry University
item ZHU, JIA-YING - Southwest Forestry University

Submitted to: Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/27/2022
Publication Date: 9/15/2022
Citation: Yang, Y., Li, X., Wang, J., Song, Q., Stanley, D.W., Wei, S., Zhu, J. 2022. Comparative genomic analysis of carboxylesterase genes in Tenebrio molitor and four other tenebrioinids. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology. 111(3). Article 21967.

Interpretive Summary: Many insect species specialize on eating plants and some of them consume a small range of plant species. Some insect species focus on crop plants and these insects are responsible for substantial economic and food security problems because they cause tremendous losses of crop plants. In 2019, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that invasive insects cost the global economy about $70 billion dollars in crop losses. While many partially effective insect management programs operate globally, new pest management theories and practices must be developed. One such practice is based on creating and analyzing pest insect genomes (the entire sequence of all genes within a species). This information supports identification of newly discovered genes that may be exploited as targets selected to disrupt pest insect life cycles. Here, we contribute to this global effort by analyzing the genes that encode a class of enzymes involved in breaking down foreign chemicals. This new information will be used by scientists at the global level who are working to improve insect pest management technologies to keep pace with positive environmental influences, such as global warming) and increased insecticide exposure (which increases resistance to insecticides), on pest insect populations. Long term benefits of this, and related, research will help contribute to global gains in production of abundant, healthy foods for a growing human population.

Technical Abstract: Carboxylesterases (COEs) have various functions in wide taxons of organisms. In insects, COEs are important enzymes involved in the hydrolysis of a variety of ester-containing xenobiotics, neural signal transmission, pheromone degradation, and reproductive development. Understanding the diversity of COEs is basic to illustrate their functions. This study identified COEs across the genome in four species from the superfamily Tenebrionidea. We identified 53, 105, 37, and 39 COEs from the genomes of Tenebrio molitor, Asbolus verucosus, Hycleus cichorii, and Hycleus phaleratus, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis showed that 234 COEs from these four species and those reported in Tribolium castaneum (63) could be divided into 12 clades and three major classes. The alpha-esterases significantly expanded in T. molitor, A. verucosus and Tribolium castaneum compared to Dipteran and Hymenopteran insects. In T. molitor, most COEs showed tissue and stage-specific but not a sex-biased expression. Our results provide insights into the diversity and evolutionary characteristics of COEs in tenebrionids and lay a foundation for functional characriztion of COEs in the yellow mealworm.