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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01120

Identification of Halloween genes and RNA interference-mediated functional characterization of a Halloween gene shadow in Plutella xylostella

 Lu Peng1, Lei Wang1, Ming-Min Zou1,  LIette Vasseur2, Li-Na Chu1, Yu-Dong Qin1, Yi-Long Zhai1 and Min-Sheng You1*
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Ecological Pest Control for Fujian and Taiwan Crops, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, China
  • 2Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Brock University, Canada

Ecdysteroids play an essential role in controlling insect development and reproduction. Their pathway is regulated by a group of enzymes called Halloween gene proteins. The relationship between the Halloween genes and ecdysteroid synthesis has yet to be clearly understood in diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (L.), a worldwide Lepidoptera pest attacking cruciferous crops and wild plants. In this study, complete sequences for six Halloween genes, neverland (nvd), shroud (sro), spook (spo), phantom (phm), disembodied (dib), shadow (sad), and shade (shd), were identified. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a strong conservation in insects, including Halloween genes of P. xylostella that was clustered with all other Lepidoptera species. Three Halloween genes, dib, sad and shd were highly expressed in the adult stage, while nvd and spo were highly expressed in the egg and pupal stages, respectively. Five Halloween genes were highly expressed specifically in the prothorax, which is the major site of ecdysone production. However, shd was expressed predominantly in the fat body to convert ecdysone into 20-hydroxyecdysone. RNAi-based knockdown of sad, which is involved in the last step of ecdysone biosynthesis, significantly reduced the 20E titer and resulted in a longer developmental duration and lower pupation of fourth-instar larvae, as well as caused shorter ovarioles and fewer fully developed eggs of P. xylostella. Furthermore, after the knockdown of sad, the expression levels of Vg and VgR genes were significantly decreased by 77.1% and 53.0 %. Meanwhile, the number of eggs laid after 3 days was significantly reduced in sad knockdown females. These results suggest that Halloween genes may play a critical role in the biosynthesis of ecdysteroids and be involved in the development and reproduction of P. xylostella. Our work provides a solid basis for understanding the functional importance of these genes, which will help to screening potential genes for pest management of P. xylostella.

Keywords: Plutella xylostella, Halloween genes, ecdysteroid, knockdown of sad expression, development, Reproduction

Received: 27 May 2019; Accepted: 13 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Peng, Wang, Zou, Vasseur, Chu, Qin, Zhai and You. 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(s) 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: Prof. Min-Sheng You, State Key Laboratory of Ecological Pest Control for Fujian and Taiwan Crops, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China,