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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Maricopa, Arizona » U.S. Arid Land Agricultural Research Center » Pest Management and Biocontrol Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #398025

Research Project: Improvement of the Aflatoxin Biocontrol Technology Based on Aspergillus flavus Population Biology, Genetics, and Crop Management Practices

Location: Pest Management and Biocontrol Research

Title: RNAi-mediated manipulation of cuticle coloration genes in Lygus hesperus Knight (Hemiptera: Miridae)

Author
item Brent, Colin
item HEU, CHAN - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)
item Gross, Roni
item Langhorst, Daniel
item Hull, Joe

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2022
Publication Date: 10/27/2022
Citation: Brent, C.S., Heu, C., Gross, R.J., Langhorst, D.R., Hull, J.J. 2022. RNAi-mediated manipulation of cuticle coloration genes in Lygus hesperus Knight (Hemiptera: Miridae). Insects. 13(11). Article number 986. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13110986.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/insects13110986

Interpretive Summary: Cuticle coloration in insects is a consequence of the accumulation of pigments in a species-specific pattern. Numerous genes are involved in regulating pigmentation, and their manipulation can be used to create externally visible markers of successful gene editing. To clarify the roles for many of these genes and examine their suitability as markers in Lygus hesperus Knight (western tarnished plant bug), existing gene expression data were screened for sequences similar to those with known functions in pigmentaton. Six genes (aaNAT, black, ebony, pale, tan, yellow) were identified, with two variants for black. In accord with observable difference in color patterning, expression varied for each gene by developmental stage, adult age, body part, and sex. Knockdown of expression by injection of double stranded RNA for each gene produced varied effects in adults, ranging from the non-detectable (black1, yellow), to moderate decreases (pale, tan) and increases (black2, ebony) in darkness, to extremely dark and pervasive pigmentation (aaNAT). Based solely on its expression profile and easily observed color changes, aaNAT appears to be the best marker for tracking transgenic Lygus.

Technical Abstract: Cuticle coloration in insects is a consequence of the accumulation of pigments in a species-specific pattern. Numerous genes are involved in regulating the underlying processes of melanization and sclerotization, and their manipulation can be used to create externally visible markers of successful gene editing. To clarify the roles for many of these genes and examine their suitability as phenotypic markers in Lygus hesperus Knight (western tarnished plant bug), transcriptomic data were screened for sequences exhibiting homology with the Drosophila melanogaster proteins. Complete open reading frames encoding putative homologs for six genes (aaNAT, black, ebony, pale, tan, yellow) were identified, with two variants for black. Sequence and phylogenetic analyses supported preliminary annotations as cuticle pigmentation genes. In accord with observable difference in color patterning, expression varied for each gene by developmental stage, adult age, body part, and sex. Knockdown by injection of dsRNA for each gene produced varied effects in adults, ranging from the non-detectable (black1, yellow), to moderate decreases (pale, tan) and increases (black2, ebony) in darkness, to extreme melanization (aaNAT). Based solely on its expression profile and highly visible phenotype, aaNAT appears to be the best marker for tracking transgenic Lygus.