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Transcriptome Profiling of Starvation in the Peripheral Chemosensory Organs of the Crop Pest Spodoptera littoralis Caterpillars

Published: 23 June 2021
 by  MDPI
 in Insects
Insects , Volume 12; doi:10.3390/insects12070573

Abstract: Starvation is frequently encountered by animals under fluctuating food conditions in nature, and response to it is vital for life span. Many studies have investigated the behavioral and physiological responses to starvation. In particular, starvation is known to induce changes in olfactory behaviors and olfactory sensitivity to food odorants, but the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we investigated the transcriptional changes induced by starvation in the chemosensory tissues of the caterpillar Spodoptera littoralis, using Illumina RNA sequencing. Gene expression profiling revealed 81 regulated transcripts associated with several biological processes, such as glucose metabolism, immune defense, response to stress, foraging activity, and olfaction. Focusing on the olfactory process, we observed changes in transcripts encoding proteins putatively involved in the peri-receptor events, namely, chemosensory proteins and odorant-degrading enzymes. Such modulation of their expression may drive fluctuations in the dynamics and the sensitivity of the olfactory receptor neuron response. In combination with the enhanced presynaptic activity mediated via the short neuropeptide F expressed during fasting periods, this could explain an enhanced olfactory detection process. Our observations suggest that a coordinated transcriptional response of peripheral chemosensory organs participates in the regulation of olfactory signal reception and olfactory-driven behaviors upon starvation.
Keywords: starvation / olfaction / RNA-seq / caterpillars / Spodoptera littoralis

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