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Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00137

Azadirachtin Affects the Growth of Spodoptera litura Fabricius by Inducing Apoptosis in Larvae Midgut

 Benshui Shu1*, Jingjing Zhang1, Gaofeng Cui1, Ranran Sun1, Xin Yi1 and  Guohua Zhong1
  • 1South China Agricultural University, China

Azadirachtin, the environmentally friendly botanical pesticide, has been used in integrated pest management as an antifeedant and pest growth regulator for multiple decades. Azadirachtin has shown strong biological activity against Spodoptera litura, but the mechanism of toxicity is not fully understood. The present study shows that azadirachtin inhibits the growth of S. litura larvae. This growth inhibition is mediated by inhibiting the midgut size and structure, a major organ for food digestion and nutritional absorption. Digital gene expression analysis suggested that midgut epithelial cells regulated the transcriptional level of multiple genes involved in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and calcium apoptotic signaling pathways. These expression patterns were verified by quantitative real time (qRT)-PCR. Azadirachtin inhibits midgut development via induction of apoptosis in midgut cells, which was confirmed by increased terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase biotin-dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining, increased gene and protein expression of apoptosis-related genes (including inhibitor of apoptosis-binding motif 1 [IBM1] and caspase family members), and the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria to the cytoplasm. These results demonstrate that azadirachtin induces structural alteration in the S. litura larval midgut by activation of apoptosis. This alteration of the midgut may affect the digestion and absorption of nutrients by midgut cells, inhibiting S. litura larval growth.

Keywords: Spodoptera litura, Azadirachtin, midgut, growth regulation, Apoptosis

Received: 09 Oct 2017; Accepted: 12 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Senthil-Nathan Sengottayan, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, India

Reviewed by:

Jalal Jalali Sendi, University of Gilan, Iran
Dong Wei, College of Plant Protection, Southwest University, China  

Copyright: © 2018 Shu, Zhang, Cui, Sun, Yi and Zhong. 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) and the copyright owner 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.

* Correspondence: Mr. Benshui Shu, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China,