Extensive Myzus cerasi transcriptional changes associated with detoxification genes upon primary to secondary host alternation

Peter Thorpe, Carmen Escudero-Martinez, Sebastian Eves-van den Akker, Jorunn Bos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Aphids are phloem-feeding insects that cause yield losses to crops globally. These insects feature complex life cycles, which in the case of many agriculturally important species involves the use of primary and secondary host plant species. The switching between winter or primary hosts, on which overwintering eggs are laid upon sexual reproduction, and the secondary hosts, on which aphids reproduce asexually by parthenogenesis, is called host alternation. Here, we used Myzus cerasi (black cherry aphid), which overwinters on cherry trees and in summer spreads to herbaceous plant species, to assess aphid transcriptional changes that occur upon host alternation. Results: Adaptation experiments of M. cerasi collected from local cherry tress to reported secondary host species revealed low survival rates when aphids were moved to two secondary host species. Moreover, aphids were unable to survive on one of the reported hosts (Land cress) unless first adapted to another secondary host (cleavers). Transcriptome analyses of populations adapted to the primary host cherry and two secondary host species showed extensive transcriptional plasticity to host alternation, with predominantly genes involved in oxidation-reduction differentially regulated. Most of the differentially expressed genes across the M. cerasi populations from the different hosts were duplicated and we found evidence for differential exon usage. In contrast, we observed only limited transcriptional to secondary host switching. Conclusion: Aphid host alternation between summer and winter host plant species is an intriguing feature of aphid life cycles that is not well understood, especially at the molecular level. Here we show that, under controlled conditions, M. cerasi adaptation from primary to secondary host species does not readily occur and involves extensive changes in aphid gene expression. Our data suggests that different sets of genes involved in detoxification are required to feed from primary versus secondary host species.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Cite this