Comparative transcriptome analysis of chemosensory genes in two sister leaf beetles provides insights into chemosensory speciation

Bin Zhang, Wei Zhang, Rui E. Nie, Wen Zhu Li, Kari A. Segraves, Xing Ke Yang, Huai Jun Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Divergence in chemosensory traits has been posited as an important component of chemosensory speciation in insects. In particular, chemosensory genes expressed in the peripheral sensory neurons are likely to influence insect behaviors such as preference for food, oviposition sites, and mates. Despite their key role in insect behavior and potentially speciation, the underlying genetic basis for divergence in chemosensory traits remains largely unexplored. One way to ascertain the role of chemosensory genes in speciation is to make comparisons of these genes across closely related species to detect the genetic signatures of divergence. Here, we used high throughput transcriptome analysis to compare chemosensory genes of the sister leaf beetles species Pyrrhalta maculicollis and P. aenescens, whose sexual isolation and host plant preference are mediated by divergent chemical signals. Although there was low overall divergence between transcriptome profiles, there were a number of genes that were differentially expressed between the species. Furthermore, we also detected two chemosensory genes under positive selection, one of which that was also differentially expressed between the species, suggesting a possible role for these genes in chemical-based premating reproductive isolation and host use. Combined with the available chemical and ecological work in this system, further studies of the divergent chemosensory genes presented here will provide insight into the process of chemosensory speciation among Pyrrhalta beetles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-118
Number of pages11
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Antennal transcriptomics
  • Chemosensory genes
  • Chemosensory speciation
  • Chrysomelidae
  • Host plant use
  • Positive selection
  • Pyrrhalta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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