Molecular ecological basis of grasshopper (Oedaleus asiaticus) phenotypic plasticity under environmental selection
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While ecological adaptation in insects can be reflected by plasticity of phenotype, determining the causes and molecular mechanisms for phenotypic plasticity (PP) remains a crucial and still difficult question in ecology, especially where control of insect pests is involved. Oedaleus asiaticus is one of the most dominant pests in the Inner Mongolia steppe and represents an excellent system to study phenotypic plasticity. To better understand ecological factors affecting grasshopper phenotypic plasticity and its molecular control, we conducted a full transcriptional screening of O. asiaticus grasshoppers reared in four different grassland patches in Inner Mongolia. Grasshoppers showed different degrees of PP associated with unique gene expressions and different habitat plant community compositions. Grasshopper performance variables were susceptible to habitat environment conditions and closely associated with plant architectures. Intriguingly, eco-transcriptome analysis revealed five potential candidate genes playing important roles in grasshopper performance, with gene expression closely relating to PP and plant community factors. By linking the grasshopper performances to gene profiles and ecological factors using canonical regression, we first demonstrated the eco-transcriptomic architecture of grasshopper phenotypic traits. Regression biplot revealed plant food type, plant density, coverage, and height were the main ecological factors influencing PP, while insect cuticle protein (ICP), negative elongation factor A (NELFA), and lactase-phlorizin hydrolase (LCT) were the key genes associated with PP. Our study gives a clear picture of gene-environment interaction in the formation and maintenance of PP and enriches our understanding of the transcriptional events underlying molecular control of rapid phenotypic plasticity associated with environmental variability. The findings of this study may also provide new targets for pest control and highlight the significance of ecological management practice on grassland conservation.
Qin , X , Hao , K , Ma , J , Huang , X , Tu , X , Ali , M P , Pittendrigh , B R , Cao , G , Wang , G , Nong , X , Whitman , D W & Zhang , Z 2017 , ' Molecular ecological basis of grasshopper ( Oedaleus asiaticus ) phenotypic plasticity under environmental selection ' Frontiers in Physiology , vol. 8 , 770 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.00770
Frontiers in Physiology
© 2017 Qin, Hao, Ma, Huang, Tu, Ali, Pittendrigh, Cao, Wang, Nong, Whitman and Zhang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
DescriptionThis research was supported by the Special Fund for Agro-scientific Research in the Public Interest (201003079), China, the earmarked fund for the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-35-07 and CARS-34-7B), the Innovation Project of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, National Nature Science Foundation of China (31672485), and the CSC Scholarship from the China Scholarship Council. The transcriptome data of O. asiaticus females was submitted to SRA database in NCBI and have been released (ID: SRP059063).
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