Open Access

Candidate chemosensory genes identified in Colaphellus bowringi by antennal transcriptome analysis

  • Xiao-Ming Li1,
  • Xiu-Yun Zhu1,
  • Zhi-Qiang Wang1,
  • Yi Wang1,
  • Peng He2,
  • Geng Chen1,
  • Liang Sun3,
  • Dao-Gui Deng1 and
  • Ya-Nan Zhang1Email author
BMC Genomics201516:1028

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-015-2236-3

Received: 13 August 2015

Accepted: 23 November 2015

Published: 2 December 2015

Abstract

Background

Since chemosensory genes play key roles in insect behaviour, they can potentially be used as new targets for pest control. The cabbage beetle, Colaphellus bowringi, is a serious insect pest of cruciferous vegetables in China and other Asian countries. However, a systematic identification of the chemosensory genes expressed in the antennae has not been reported.

Results

We assembled the antennal transcriptome of C. bowringi by using Illumina sequencing technology and identified 104 candidate chemosensory genes by analyzing transcriptomic data, which included transcripts encoding 26 odorant-binding proteins (OBPs), 12 chemosensory proteins (CSPs), four sensory neuron membrane proteins (SNMPs), 43 odorant receptors (ORs), nine ionotropic receptors (IRs), and ten gustatory receptors (GRs). The data obtained are similar to those found in other coleopteran species, suggesting that our approach successfully identified the chemosensory genes of C. bowringi. The expression patterns of 43 OR genes, some of which were predominately found in the antenna or associated with sex-biased expression, were analyzed using quantitative real time RT-PCR (qPCR).

Conclusions

Our study revealed that a large number of chemosensory genes are expressed in C. bowringi. These candidate chemosensory genes and their expression profiles in various tissues provide further information on understanding their function in C. bowringi as well as other insects, and identifying potential targets to disrupt the odorant system in C. bowringi so that new methods for pest management can be developed.

Keywords

Transcriptome analysis Chemosensory gene Antenna Tissue expression Cabbage beetle

Background

The olfactory system plays a key role in various insect behaviours, such as those related to locating suitable hosts, avoiding predators, identifying oviposition sites, and finding sexual partners [1]. The antennae are crucial olfactory organs in this system, and many studies have demonstrated that the system generally involves two main steps. Firstly, odorants penetrate the sensillar lymph through pores, wherein they are recognised and bound by odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) [24] or chemosensory proteins (CSPs) [5, 6]. Secondly, it was speculated that the OBPs or CSPs were the transporters that transferred odorants through the sensillar lymph to a family of integral membrane protein, the olfactory receptors (ORs), located on the dendrites of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) [710]. Additionally, sensory neuron membrane proteins (SNMPs) [11, 12] and ionotropic receptors (IRs) [2, 1315] have also been proposed to play a role in insect olfaction.

To thoroughly explore the mechanisms of insect olfaction, tissue or sex expression profiling as well as functional analyses of candidate chemosensory genes are the primary important steps that should be performed. Compared with initial techniques such as gene cloning with degenerate primers and Rapid Amplification of cDNA Ends (RACE) [1619], RNA-seq is considered to be a timesaving, cost effective, and highly efficient method. Therefore, large-scale studies identifying chemosensory genes have been undertaken with distinct insects whose genomes have not been sequenced in recent years, such as Ips typographus (european spruce bark beetle) [20], Dendroctonus ponderosae (mountain pine beetle) [20], Dendroctonus valens (red turpentine beetle) [21], Anomala corpulenta (metallic green beetle) [22], Sesamia inferens (purple stem borer) [23], and Helicoverpa armigera (cotton bollworm) [24].

To date, many chemosensory genes have been identified from insects of almost every insect order. However, their exact functions are largely unknown, as these genes were identified based on sequence similarity to previously reported genes. Examination of gene expression profiles, particularly the tissue or sex distribution, and phylogenetic analyses could potentially provide important information concerning the function of chemosensory genes [2530].

The cabbage beetle, Colaphellus bowringi Baly (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), is a serious insect pest and widely distributed in China as well as some other Asian countries. It primarily feeds on the developing leaves of cruciferous vegetables such as Raphanus sativus, Brassica chinensis, B. pekinensis and B. campestris, and aestivates and hibernates in the soil during the adult stage [31, 32]. There are two distinct infestation peaks annually: one in spring with a single generation and a second in autumn involving three generations. Both sexes copulate an average of five times per day [3335], and 15-dayold partners have significantly greater mating success in mate choice than other developmental stages [36, 37]. However, highly effective sex attractants and pesticides to control the pest are not available [38, 39].

In this study, we performed a transcriptome analysis of adult antennae of C. bowringi, and identified 104 candidate chemosensory genes comprising 26 OBPs, 12 CSPs, 4 SNMPs, 43 ORs, 9 IRs, and 10 GRs. Furthermore, we conducted a comprehensive and comparative phylogenetic analysis and examined OR gene transcription patterns using quantitative real-time RT-PCR (qPCR). The results clearly revealed a unique feature of sex-biased expression of some ORs, and ultimately allowed us to identify potential targets to disrupt odorant perception in C. bowringi that could lead to new pest management techniques.

Results

Transcriptome sequencing and sequence assembly

We carried out next-generation sequencing on a cDNA library constructed from the adult antennae of C. bowringi using the Illumina HiSeq™ 2500 platform. The transcriptome sequence consisted of approximately 50 million clean reads (5.0 Gb). After clustering and redundancy filtering, we identified 41,761 unigenes with an N50 length of 1510 bp (Table 1). We called these 41,761sequences unigenses, although each might not necessarily represent a unique gene. Of the 41,761 unigenes, those with a sequence length greater than 500 bp accounted for 39.55 % of the transcriptome assembly (Additional file 1: Figure S1).
Table 1

Summary of C. bowringi transcriptome assembly

Statistics project

Number

Total clean reads

50,737,524

GC percentage

41.13 %

Q20 percentage

96.84 %

Total unigene nucleotides

33,080,006

Total unigene

41,761

N50 of unigenes (nt)

1510

Min length of unigenes (nt)

201

Median length of unigenes (nt)

379

Max length of unigenes (nt)

21,193

Unigenes with homolog in NR

18,903

Homology analysis and Gene Ontology (GO) annotation

Among the 41,761 unigenes, 18,903 were matched by a Blastx similarity of the entries in the NCBI non-redundant (nr) protein database, with a cut-off E-value of 10−5. The highest match percentage (54.60 %) was to Tribolium castaneum (red flour beetle) sequences followed by Dendroctonus ponderosae (16.70 %), Acyrthosiphon pisum (pea aphid) (2.50 %), Diaphorina citri (asian citrus psyllid) (1.90 %) and Bombyx mori (silkworm) (1.30 %) (Additional file 2: Figure S2).

Gene Ontology (GO) annotation was used to classify transcripts into functional groups according to the GO category. Of the 41,761 unigenes, 14,147 (33.87 %) could be annotated based on sequence similarity. In the molecular function category, the genes expressed in the antenna were mostly associated with binding, catalytic, and transporter activities. In the biological process category, cellular, metabolic, and single-organism processes were the most represented. In the cellular component category, cell, cell part, and organelle were the most abundant groups (Additional file 3: Figure S3).

Identification of candidate chemosensory genes

By similarity analysis, a total of 104 transcripts belonging to gene families putatively involved in insect chemoreception were identified, including OBPs (26 transcripts), CSPs (12 transcripts), SNMPs (four transcripts), ORs (43 transcripts), IRs (9 transcripts) and GRs (10 transcripts) (Tables 2 and 3). Compared with insects where the chemosensory genes had been identified by analyzing either the genome or transcriptome, the number of candidate chemosensory genes identified here in C. bowringi was similar to those in D. ponderosae (111) and more than I. typographus (80), but less than in T. castaneum (642) (Fig. 1).
Table 2

The Blastx Match of C. bowringi candidate OBPs, CSPs and SNMPs genes

Gene

Acc.

ORF

Signal

Complete

Best Blastx Match

 

Name

No.

(aa)

Peptide

ORF

Name

Acc. No.

Species

E value

Identity (%)

Group

Odorant Binding Protein (OBP)

      

OBP1

KT381483

142

1–19

Y

odorant-binding protein 1

AHA33382.1

Batocera horsfieldi

2.00E-61

65

Classic

OBP2

KT381484

142

1–21

Y

odorant binding protein 23

EFA10803.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-43

59

Classic

OBP3

KT381485

89

N

N

odorant-binding protein 5

AHA39270.1

Monochamus alternatus

1.00E-20

47

--

OBP4

KT381486

113

N

N

odorant-binding protein 26

AGI05179.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

5.00E-19

35

--

OBP5

KT381487

131

1–18

Y

odorant-binding protein 5

AHA39270.1

Monochamus alternatus

5.00E-10

35

Minus-C

OBP6

KT381488

133

1–16

Y

odorant-binding protein 2

AHA39267.1

Monochamus alternatus

1.00E-37

58

Minus-C

OBP7

KT381489

136

1–21

Y

pheromone binding protein PBP1

AIV43008.1

Batocera horsfieldi

4.00E-48

63

Classic

OBP8

KT381490

134

1–24

Y

odorant-binding protein 3

AHA33381.1

Batocera horsfieldi

1.00E-07

35

Classic

OBP9

KT381491

151

1–19

Y

odorant-binding protein 1

AJM71475.1

Tenebrio molitor

1.00E-27

37

Classic

OBP10

KT381492

134

1–27

Y

odorant binding protein 05

EFA05677.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-06

37

Classic

OBP11

KT381493

140

1–18

Y

odorant binding protein 1

ABR53888.1

Monochamus alternatus

2.00E-10

33

Minus-C

OBP12

KT381494

248

1–18

Y

odorant binding protein 2

AKK25130.1

Dendroctonus valens

1.00E-31

62

Classic

OBP13

KT381495

133

1–18

Y

odorant binding protein

AHE13799.1

Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus

1.00E-22

37

Minus-C

OBP14

KT381496

123

1–23

Y

odorant-binding protein 16

AGI05186.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

3.00E-06

29

Classic

OBP15

KT381497

140

1–19

Y

minus-C odorant binding protein 3

ADD82416.1

Batocera horsfieldi

8.00E-14

40

Minus-C

OBP16

KT381498

141

1–18

Y

minus-C odorant binding protein 2

ADD70031.1

Batocera horsfieldi

3.00E-18

32

Minus-C

OBP17

KT381499

136

1–18

Y

odorant-binding protein 2

AHA33380.1

Batocera horsfieldi

4.00E-48

57

Classic

OBP18

KT381500

179

1–22

Y

odorant-binding protein 28

AHF71059.1

Lygus lineolaris

2.00E-50

50

Plus-C

OBP19

KT381501

130

1–22

Y

odorant-binding protein 5

AHA39270.1

Monochamus alternatus

8.00E-14

34

Minus-C

OBP20

KT381502

130

1–15

Y

odorant binding protein 4

AKK25132.1

Dendroctonus valens

2.00E-34

44

Minus-C

OBP21

KT381503

142

1–20

Y

odorant binding protein

AHE13800.1

Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus

1.00E-07

25

Minus-C

OBP22

KT381504

132

1–16

Y

odorant binding protein 10

AKK25136.1

Dendroctonus valens

4.00E-13

30

Minus-C

OBP23

KT381505

130

1–19

Y

odorant binding protein C03

EFA07546.1

Tribolium castaneum

9.00E-18

37

Minus-C

OBP24

KT381506

103

N

N

minus-C odorant binding protein 4

ADD82417.1

Batocera horsfieldi

7.00E-12

36

--

OBP25

KT381507

248

1–21

Y

odorant-binding protein 2

AGI05158.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

2.00E-51

41

Plus-C

OBP26

KT381508

150

1–16

Y

odorant binding protein 12

EFA02857.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-22

36

Classic

Chemosensory Protein (CSP)

      

CSP1

KT381509

126

1–18

Y

chemosensory protein 12

NP_001039280.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-40

56

 

CSP2

KT381510

138

1–19

Y

chemosensory protein 11 precursor

NP_001039279.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-31

52

 

CSP3

KT381511

130

1–19

Y

chemosensory protein 6

AGI05162.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

4.00E-34

55

 

CSP4

KT381512

124

1–18

Y

CSP11

AKI84394.1

Holotrichia parallela

1.00E-37

53

 

CSP5

KT381513

126

1–17

Y

chemosensory protein 8

AHE13803.1

Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus

7.00E-45

80

 

CSP6

KT381514

123

1–19

Y

chemosensory protein 2

AGI05172.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

7.00E-36

45

 

CSP7

KT381515

125

1–18

Y

chemosensory protein 7 precursor

NP_001039289.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-54

69

 

CSP8

KT381516

97

1–19

N

chemosensory protein CSP3

AJO62209.1

Tenebrio molitor

7.00E-33

59

 

CSP9

KT381517

148

N

Y

chemosensory protein CSP7

AJO62213.1

Tenebrio molitor

9.00E-31

46

 

CSP10

KT381518

138

1–16

Y

chemosensory protein 8

AHE13803.1

Lissorhoptrus oryzophilus

3.00E-30

45

 

CSP11

KT381519

113

N

Y

chemosensory protein 1 isoform X1

XP_008200934.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-42

69

 

CSP12

KT381520

162

N

Y

chemosensory protein

AFI45003.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

9.00E-65

72

 

Sensory Neuron Membrane Protein (SNMP)

     

SNMP1a

KT381536

514

 

Y

SNMP-1

AJO62245.1

Tenebrio molitor

0.00E + 00

59

 

SNMP1b

KT381537

534

 

Y

sensory neuron membrane protein

AFI45066.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

0.00E + 00

52

 

SNMP2

KT381538

522

 

Y

SNMP-2

AJO62246.1

Tenebrio molitor

9.00E-119

42

 

SNMP3

KT381539

520

 

Y

sensory neuron membrane protein 2-like

XP_008198962.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-162

46

 
Table 3

The Blastx Match of C. bowringi candidate ORs, IRs and GR genes

Gene

Acc.

ORF

Signal

Complete

Best Blastx Match

Name

No.

(aa)

Peptide

ORF

Name

Acc. No.

Species

E value

Identity (%)

Odorant Receptor (OR)

     

OR1

KT381540

344

4

N

odorant receptor 127

EEZ97733.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-24

26

ORco(OR2)

KT381541

479

7

Y

odorant receptor co-receptor

AJF94638.2

Ambrostoma quadriimpressum

0.00E + 00

92

OR3

KT381542

330

5

N

odorant receptor 43

EEZ99411.1

Tribolium castaneum

6.00E-101

44

OR4

KT381543

378

6

Y

odorant receptor 14

AKC58549.1

Anomala corpulenta

3.00E-44

30

OR5

KT381544

254

4

N

odorant receptor 18

AKC58553.1

Anomala corpulenta

1.00E-16

28

OR6

KT381545

384

7

Y

odorant receptor 89

EFA10702.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-43

32

OR7

KT381546

318

4

N

olfactory receptor OR16

AJO62235.1

Tenebrio molitor

2.00E-47

32

OR8

KT381547

174

3

N

odorant receptor 44

EEZ99412.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-43

40

OR9

KT381548

336

5

N

odorant receptor 59

EEZ99171.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-91

44

OR10

KT381549

363

5

Y

odorant receptor 14

AKC58549.1

Anomala corpulenta

1.00E-41

27

OR11

KT381550

336

5

N

odorant receptor 64

EFA10800.1

Tribolium castaneum

5.00E-146

56

OR12

KT381551

156

2

N

odorant receptor 47

EFA02940.1

Tribolium castaneum

9.00E-24

36

OR13

KT381552

420

8

Y

odorant receptor 14

AKC58549.1

Anomala corpulenta

1.00E-33

27

OR14

KT381553

356

4

N

odorant receptor 58

EEZ99414.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-49

33

OR15

KT381554

389

7

Y

odorant receptor 3

EFA01310.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-66

36

OR16

KT381555

196

0

N

odorant receptor 128

EFA02867.1

Tribolium castaneum

9.00E-10

21

OR17

KT381556

387

7

Y

odorant receptor 80

EFA10776.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-55

30

OR18

KT381557

174

0

N

odorant receptor 49b-like

XP_001812261.1

Tribolium castaneum

4.00E-18

34

OR19

KT381558

379

6

Y

odorant receptor 89

EFA10702.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-45

32

OR20

KT381559

248

3

N

odorant receptor 23

AGI05173.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

3.00E-12

24

OR21

KT381560

355

4

N

odorant receptor 58

EEZ99414.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-48

32

OR22

KT381561

390

3

Y

odorant receptor 89

EFA10702.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-41

29

OR23

--

42

0

N

odorant receptor 82a

XP_966790.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-57

45

OR24

KT381562

395

4

Y

odorant receptor 89

EFA10702.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-51

29

OR25

--

58

0

N

odorant receptor 35

EEZ99408.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-21

73

OR26

KT381563

380

6

Y

odorant receptor 41

EEZ99227.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-46

29

OR27

KT381564

398

6

Y

odorant receptor 167

EFA02801.1

Tribolium castaneum

9.00E-70

35

OR28

KT381565

368

4

Y

odorant receptor 120

EEZ99330.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-14

24

OR29

KT381566

250

3

N

odorant receptor 14

AKC58549.1

Anomala corpulenta

7.00E-29

29

OR30

KT381567

194

4

N

odorant receptor 37

EEZ99229.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-29

30

OR31

KT381568

418

6

Y

odorant receptor 14

AKC58549.1

Anomala corpulenta

1.00E-36

27

OR32

KT381569

393

6

Y

odorant receptor 94a-like

XP_011629601.1

Pogonomyrmex barbatus

5.00E-13

27

OR33

KT381570

185

2

N

olfactory receptor OR10

AJO62229.1

Tenebrio molitor

3.00E-51

37

OR34

KT381571

436

5

Y

odorant receptor Or1-like

XP_008560066.1

Microplitis demolitor

3.00E-16

27

OR35

KT381572

388

4

Y

odorant receptor 92

EFA02873.1

Tribolium castaneum

6.00E-49

30

OR36

KT381573

383

7

Y

odorant receptor 14

AKC58549.1

Anomala corpulenta

7.00E-58

32

OR37

KT381574

371

4

Y

odorant receptor 123

EEZ99420.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-14

24

OR38

KT381575

271

2

N

odorant receptor 37

EEZ99229.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-82

47

OR39

KT381576

121

2

N

olfactory receptor OR60

AJE25900.1

Planotortrix excessana

6.00E-07

39

OR40

KT381577

369

6

Y

putative olfactory receptor 10

BAR43452.1

Ostrinia furnacalis

1.00E-19

23

OR41

KT884514

79

0

N

odorant receptor 184

EFA01394.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-05

33

OR42

KT884515

83

0

N

olfactory receptor 17

CAM84015.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-04

27

OR43

KT884516

73

0

N

odorant receptor 3

EFA01310.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-04

38

Ionotropic Receptor (IR)

    

IR6

KT381529

920

3

Y

chemosensory ionotropic receptor IR6

AJO62244.1

Tenebrio molitor

0.00E + 00

80

IR21a

KT381530

158

1

N

chemosensory ionotropic receptor 21a

AKC58586.1

Anomala corpulenta

1.00E-82

58

IR75q

KT381531

483

3

N

chemosensory ionotropic receptor 75q

AKC58589.1

Anomala corpulenta

3.00E-110

46

IR8a

KT381532

866

3

Y

ionotropic receptor 8a

AGI05169.1

Dendroctonus ponderosae

0.00E + 00

60

IR41a

KT381533

347

2

N

chemosensory ionotropic receptor 41a

AKC58587.1

Anomala corpulenta

5.00E-65

40

IR5

KT381534

552

3

Y

chemosensory ionotropic receptor IR5

AJO62243.1

Tenebrio molitor

4.00E-180

52

IR2

KT381535

607

3

Y

chemosensory ionotropic receptor IR2

AJO62240.1

Tenebrio molitor

0.00E + 00

60

IR64a

KT884510

213

1

N

ionotropic receptor

BAR64801.1

Ostrinia furnacalis

6.00E-57

38

IR68a

KT884511

95

0

N

ionotropic receptor

BAR64802.1

Ostrinia furnacalis

3.00E-44

66

Gustatory Receptor (GR)

     

GR1

KT381521

134

0

N

gustatory receptor 99

EFA02933.1

Tribolium castaneum

5.00E-06

35

GR2

KT381522

287

5

N

gustatory receptor

ABY40623.1

Tribolium castaneum

9.00E-71

52

GR3

KT381523

120

2

N

gustatory receptor 6

EFA04712.1

Tribolium castaneum

1.00E-30

48

GR4

KT381524

216

5

N

gustatory receptor

ABY40595.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-06

33

GR5

KT381525

77

0

N

gustatory receptor for sugar taste 43a-like

XP_001813898.1

Tribolium castaneum

3.00E-17

49

GR6

KT381526

183

3

N

putative gustatory receptor 28b

XP_001813096.2

Tribolium castaneum

5.00E-08

38

GR7

KT381527

113

1

N

gustatory receptor candidate 10

CAL23143.2

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-59

82

GR8

KT381528

118

2

N

gustatory receptor 2 isoform X1

XP_008191523.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-68

82

GR9

KT884512

81

1

N

gustatory receptor 102

EFA02935.1

Tribolium castaneum

2.00E-04

29

GR10

KT884513

79

1

N

gustatory receptor

ABY40593.1

Tribolium castaneum

4.00E-04

33

Genes without accession number represent that the gene fragments obtained in this study were less than 200 bp in length. Gene fragments less than 200 bp are unable to be deposited in the GenBank, and thus no accession numbers were provided for these genes

Fig. 1

The number of chemosensory genes in different insect species. The digits by the histogram bars represent number of chemosensory genes in different subfamilies. A phylogenetic tree showing the phylogenetic relationships between these species is illustrated on the left. The data are obtained from the current study for C. bowringi and from the references [9, 10, 12, 15] for Tribolium castaneum, [20] for Ips typographus and Dendroctonus ponderosae, [21] for D. valens and [22] for Anomala corpulenta

OBPs

We identified 26 different transcripts encoding candidate OBPs in C. bowringi, which is less than that in D. ponderosae (31), but more than that in I. typographus (15), A. corpulenta (15), and D. valens (21). The results of the sequence analysis revealed 23 transcripts with a full-length open reading frame (ORF) with predicted signal peptide sequences, and CbowOBP3, 4, 24 corresponded to a partial sequence that encoded amino acids from 89 to 113. Except for CbowOBP18, the other 25 CbowOBPs identified were similar to known coleopteran OBPs (Table 2). Among the 26 CbowOBPs, CbowOBP5 showed the highest expression level (RPKM = 18323.68) (Additional file 4: Table S1)

A phylogenetic tree of the OBPs was constructed using the protein sequences from C. bowringi, T. castaneum, D. ponderosae, I. typographus, A. corpulenta, and Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) (Fig. 2). As previous reports [4, 4042] and our results, 23 full-length CbowOBPs could be divided into three groups: Minus-C OBPs (CbowOBP5, 6, 11, 13, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23), Plus-C OBPs (CbowOBP18 and 25), and the remainder Classic OBPs.
Fig. 2

Phylogenetic tree of insect OBP. The C. bowringi translated genes are shown in blue. Amino acid sequences used for the tree are given in Additional file 6: Table S2. Bootstrap values greater than 50 % are shown. The Plus-C subfamily is marked in blue, and the Minus-C subfamily is marked in red

CSPs

In total, 12 different transcripts encoding candidate CSPs with four conserved cysteine profiles were obtained in C. bowringi through bioinformatic analysis, which included 11 sequences predicted to be full length and 8 with a signal peptide (Table 2), with CbowCSP3 harbouring the highest expression level (RPKM = 4155.27) (Additional file 4: Table S1). The phylogenetic tree revealed two branches with high bootstrap values: CbowCSP8 with TcasCSP8 and DponCSP11, and finally CbowCSP11 with AgamCSP8, BmorCSP20, and BmorCSP21 (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3

Phylogenetic tree of insect CSP. The C. bowringi translated genes are shown in blue. Amino acid sequences used for the tree are given in Additional file 6: Table S2. Bootstrap values greater than 50 % are shown

SNMPs

Four SNMP homologs with full-length ORFs were also obtained from the C. bowringi transcriptome. This number is consistent with D. valens, but is greater than that in other previously studied coleoptera insects (Fig. 1). The Blastx results demonstrated that CbowSNMPs encoding proteins harboured a 42–59 % identity to those of other reported insects (Table 2). The RPKM results showed that CbowSNMPs displayed the highest expression level (RPKM = 90.28) (Additional file 4: Table S1). Based on the phylogenetic analysis, we found that CbowSNMP1a and CbowSNMP1b clustered with the coleoptera SNMP1 group, while CbowSNMP2 and CbowSNMP3 clustered with high support with DponSNMP2 and ItypSNMP2Fix, respectively (Additional file 5: Figure S4).

ORs

Forty-three different transcripts for candidate ORs were identified based on the antennal transcriptome data for C. bowringi, among which 20 sequences contained a full-length ORF that encoded 363 to 479 amino acids. We identified one OR sequence that shared a high level of identity with the conserved ORco proteins of other insect species and labelled it CbowORco. The amino-acid sequence of CbowORco shared 92 % identity with the co-receptor of Ambrostoma quadriimpressum (leaf beetle) (AJF94638.2). More than 80 % of the CbowORs were highly divergent, and had low levels of identity (21–40 %) with other reported insect ORs. Based on prediction and comparison with other insect ORs [20, 22], we found full-length CbowORs had 3 to 8 TMD (transmembrane domains) (Table 3).

A phylogenetic analysis was conducted using a data set containing the sequences of the 36 ORs longer than 160 amino acids in C. bowringi and 192 ORs from four other coleopteran species (Fig. 4). The OR sequences were clustered into several subgroups according to previous studies. CbowORs were only present within the previously defined coleopteran OR subgroups 1, 2, 3, and 7 as well as the ORco subgroup. We found that 6 CbowORs (CbowOR6, 17, 19, 22, 24 and 35) and a functionally characterized McarOR20 [43] were clustered in subgroup 1. A total of17 CbowORs (OR3, 4, 7–11, 13–15, 21, 26, 29, 31, 33, 36 and 38) and 2 functionally characterized McarORs (OR3 and 5) [43] belong to subgroup 2 (Fig. 4).
Fig. 4

Phylogenetic tree of insect OR. The C. bowringi translated genes are shown in blue. Amino acid sequences used for the tree are given in Additional file 6: Table S2. Bootstrap values greater than 50 % are shown

The transcriptional profiles of CbowOR genes were characterized using qPCR, and the results revealed that all of the 43 CbowORs displayed predominately antenna linked or otherwise biased expression levels. Although we did not identify apparent sex-specific genes in these C. bowringi olfactory receptors, there were six (CbowOR7, 9, 14, 15, 17 and 37) and10 (CbowOR5 10, 12, 22, 25, 29, 30,31, 41 and 42) with significantly higher expression in the male and female antennae, respectively (Fig. 5).
Fig. 5

Relative expression levels of all ORs in adult antennae and whole body, using qPCR. FA, female antennae; MA, male antennae; Bo, whole insect body (without antennae). The relative expression level is indicated as mean ± SE (N = 3). Different capital letters mean significant difference between tissues (P <0.05, ANOVA, LSD)

IRs and GRs

In total, we identified nine IR and ten GR candidates in C. bowringi, which is similar to that reported in other recent antennal transcriptomic studies of coleoptera insects [20, 22] (Fig. 1). Only four of these likely represented a full-length ORF (CbowIR2, 5, 6 and 8a), among which we also found three TMDs. The RPKM results showed that CbowIR6 (RPKM = 74.73) and CbowGR1 (RPKM = 53.07) displayed the highest expression levels (Additional file 4: Table S1). According to the phylogenetic tree of the IRs from D. melanogaster and various coleopterans, we observed all nine CbowIRs were clustered into antennal IRs and IR25a/IR8a clades (Fig. 6).
Fig. 6

Phylogenetic tree of insect IR. The C. bowringi translated genes are shown in blue. Amino acid sequences used for the tree are given in Additional file 6: Table S2. Bootstrap values greater than 50 % are shown

Discussion

Compared to dipterans and lepidopterans, the molecular basis of chemoreception in coleopterans is relatively poorly understood. In the current study, we sequenced and analyzed the transcriptome of antennae from C. bowringi. Among the 41,761 unigenes identified, only 45.26 % gene translations shared significant similarity with entries in the NCBI non-redundant (nr) protein database, and only 33.87 % could be annotated to one or more GO term, which is similar to that reported in other coleopteran species [2022], indicating that a large number of C. bowringi genes are non-coding or homologous to genes that do not have any GO term, or perhaps some are C. bowringi-specific or fast-evolving genes. Importantly, we identified 104 novel chemosensory genes in C. bowringi. Our results not only establish a means to further elucidate the molecular mechanisms of chemosensation, but also provide insight into insect physiology and the development of additional pest control strategies [44].

The total number (104) of chemosensory transcripts identified in C. bowringi is different from what has been reported in D. ponderosae (111) and I. typographus (80), This phenomenon may be due to the evolution of divergent physiological behaviours (such as: herbivory, mating, and oviposition) of different insects during the process of adaptation to various environments [4547]. Specific environments might lead to divergent evolutionary trajectories of the same ancestral chemosensory genes, resulting in different functional genes among species.

In total, 26 OBPs were identified in the antennal transcriptome of C. bowringi. This is close to the number of OBPs in the antennae of D. ponderosae (31) and D. valens (21), however less than in T. castaneum (49). The number of CbowCSPs (12) is similar to D. ponderosae (11) while less than T. castaneum (20). Previous studies showed that some insect OBPs and CSPs are expressed primarily or exclusively in non-antennae tissues or in larvae [23, 4850], thus we may not have obtained these types of genes.

Currently, the general mechanism of insect SNMP function is still poorly understood. While DmelSNMP1 is essential for the detection of the pheromone (Z)-11-octadecenyl acetate (a volatile male-specific fatty-acid-derived pheromone) in D. melanogaster, and it is thought that SNMP acts in concert with odorant receptors to capture pheromone molecules on the surface of olfactory dendrites [51, 52]. In this study, SNMP transcripts were identified in C. bowringi (4) and were found to be more numerous than those in the T. castaneum genome (2). The expression of antennal SNMPs in C. bowringi, similar to what was previously reported for other known coleopteran insects, suggests that SNMPs in coleopteran insects may have same role as in D. melanogaster.

In comparison with the lepidopterans, although the coleopterans ORs have been focused on in recent years [2022, 43, 53], species richness and function analyses are still lacking. For this reason, it is necessary to identify additional coleopteran ORs to further elucidate the mechanisms of coleopteran chemosensation. In insects, gene duplications and deletion events may be the major contributors to high levels of diversity in OR genes and variability in gene number among species. Forty-three ORs were first identified in the antennal transcriptome of C. bowringi, which is less than the number of ORs in the complete genome of T. castaneum (341). However, it is same as the number of ORs identified in the antennal transcriptome of I. typographus (43) and A. corpulenta (43), suggesting we may missed some larvae-biased ORs or those with lower expression levels. Remarkably, similar to what has been observed in T. castaneum, M. caryae, and A. corpulenta, a species-specific expansion of ORs (CbowOR1/5/16/28/37/40 and 3/8/14/21) was also found in C. bowringi, which may reflect that these distinct species inhabit different ecological niches. M. caryae was the first beetle in which the function of the ORs was characterized [43]. For this reason, we are only able to speculate on the possible functions of CbowORs by examining those of the orthologous McarORs. McarOR3 can bind the pheromone component (S)-2-methyl-1-butanol and additional structurally related chemicals using functional analysis in vitro. CbowOR7 displayed a male-biased transcriptional profile characteristic and could be clustered into the same subgroup with McarOR3, indicating that it may have a similar function to McarOR3 as well as other lepidopteran pheromone receptors (PRs) [5457]. In total, we identified 6 (CbowOR7, 9, 14, 15, 17 and 37) and 10 (CbowOR5, 10, 12, 22, 25, 29, 30, 31, 41 and 42) genes with significantly higher expression levels in male and female antennae, respectively. Based on previous studies of the insect OR functions [5760], the male-biased CbowORs may be involved in the detection of the sex pheromone or other male-specific behaviours, while female-biased CbowORs may detect odours critical to female behaviour, such as oviposition cues or male-produced courtship pheromones. The sex-specific functions of these CbowORs need to be further investigated in the future.

Furthermore, we identified 9 IRs from the antennal transcriptome assembly in C. bowringi, which is fewer than that in T. castaneum (10) and D. ponderosae (15). This may be due to the possibility that some transcripts were missing from our antennal transcriptome. Like ORco, both IR8a and IR25a were thought to act as co-receptors since they are co-expressed along with other IRs [61]. Sequence alignments and the phylogenetic tree revealed that CbowIR8a and CbowIR6 (25a) belong to the co-expression IR group. To date, multiple GRs have also been identified in different insect species [20, 6265]. While only ten CbowGRs were found in C. bowringi, this was expected since GRs are primarily expressed in gustatory organs, such as the proboscis and maxillary palps, rather than the antennae [6567].

Conclusions

In conclusion, we identified an extensive set of candidate genes that may be related to odorant perception of C. bowringi by analyzing transcriptomic sequence data. As the first step towards understanding gene functions, we conducted a comprehensive and comparative phylogenetic analysis and examined OR gene transcription patterns, some of which were sex-biased. Further analysis is needed to explore the function of these genes using integrated functional studies.

Methods

Insect rearing and collection

C. bowringi were collected in April 2015 from a B. campestris field in the Pollution-Free Planting Base of Huaibei City, Huaibei, China. The field studies did not involve endangered or protected species, and no specific permissions were required for these research activities at these locations. Specimens were separated into females and males, and were reared on fresh leaves of B. campestris. The rearing conditions were 25 °C ± 1 °C, a 12 h light : 12 h dark photoperiod, and 70 ± 10 % relative humidity [68]. For transcriptome sequencing, the antennae of 800 adults (400 males and 400 females) were collected. For the expression study of different tissues, 150–200 female antennae (FA), 150–200 male antennae (MA), and 10–15 whole insect body without antennae (Bo) were also collected. All samples were immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen and stored at −80 °C until use.

cDNA library construction

Total RNA was extracted using TRIzol reagent (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA, USA), cDNA library construction and Illumina sequencing of the samples were performed at Novogene Bioinformatics Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing, China. The mRNA was purified from 3 μg of total RNA using oligo (dT) magnetic beads and fragmented into short sequences in the presence of divalent cations at 94 °C for 5 min. Then, the first-strand cDNA was generated using random hexamer-primed reverse transcription, followed by synthesis of the second-strand cDNA using RNaseH and DNA polymerase I. After the end repair and ligation of adaptors, the products were amplified by PCR and purified using the QIAquick PCR Purification Kit (Qiagen, Valencia, CA, USA) to create a cDNA library, which was assessed on the Agilent Bioanalyzer 2100 system.

Clustering and sequencing

Clustering of the index-coded samples was performed on a cBot Cluster Generation System using TruSeq PE Cluster Kit v3-cBot-HS (Illumina) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After cluster generation, the libraries were sequenced on an Illumina HiSeq™ 2500 platform and paired-end reads were generated.

De novo assembly of short reads and gene annotation

Clean short reads were obtained by removing those containing an adapter or poly-N and of low quality from the raw reads. Transcriptome de novo assembly was carried out with the short read assembling program Trinity (r20140413p1) [69, 70] with min_kmer_cov set to two by default and all other parameters also set as default. The resulting sequences were the unigenes. The unigenes larger than 150 bp were first aligned by Blastx to protein databases, including Nr, Swiss-Prot, KEGG, and COG (E-value < 10−5), retrieving proteins with the highest sequence similarity with the given unigenes along with their protein functional annotations. Then, we used the Blast2GO program [71] to obtain a GO annotation of the unigenes, and GO functional classification with the WEGO software [72].

Expression abundance analysis of the Unigenes

The expression abundance of these unigenes were calculated based on the reads per kilobase per million mapped reads (RPKM) method [73], using the formula: RPKM (A) = (10,00,000 × C × 1000)/(N × L), where RPKM (A) is the abundance of gene A, C is the number of reads that uniquely aligned to gene A, N is the total number of reads that uniquely aligned to all genes, and L is the number of bases in gene A. The RPKM method was able to eliminate the influence of different gene lengths and sequencing discrepancies in the calculation of expression abundance.

RNA isolation and cDNA synthesis

Total RNA was extracted with the SV 96 Total RNA Isolation System (Promega, Madison, WI, USA) following the manufacturer’s instructions, in which a DNaseI digestion was included to avoid contamination of genomic DNA. RNA quality was checked with a spectrophotometer (NanoDropTM 1000, Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA). The single-stranded cDNA templates were synthesized from 1 μg of total RNA from the various tissue samples using the PrimeScript™ RT Master Mix (TaKaRa, Dalian, China).

Sequence analysis

The open reading frames (ORFs) of the chemosensory genes were predicted using ORF finder (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gorf/gorf.html). The similarity searches were performed with the NCBI-BLAST network server (http://blast.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/). Transmembrane domains of both CbowORs and CbowIRs were predicted with the TMHMM Server Version 2.0 (http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/TMHMM). Putative N-terminal signal peptides of CbowOBPs and CbowCSPs were predicted by Signal IP 4.1 (http://www.cbs.dtu.dk/services/SignalP/) [74].

Nomenclature of all genes

We adopted nomenclature for the CbowORco, CbowIRs and CbowSNMPs that are analogous to those deposited in GenBank (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/). Based on previous studies, CbowOBPs were divided into three groups [3, 4]: Classic OBPs, characterized by 6 cysteine residues at conserved positions; Plus-C OBPs, which have 4–6 additional cysteines and one characteristic proline; and Minus-C OBPs, which are missing cysteine residues, generally C2 and C5. The rest of the chemosensory genes of C. bowringi were named based on their order in the antennal transcriptome data.

Phylogenetic analysis

The phylogenetic trees were reconstructed for the analyses of CbowOBPs, CbowCSPs, CbowSNMP, CbowORs, and CbowIRs, using these genes (the signal peptides of sequences were removed from OBPs and CSPs) as well as the sequences in other insects. The OBP data set contained 26 sequences from C. bowringi and 150 from other insects. The CSP data set contained 12 sequences from C. bowringi and 72 from other insects. The SNMP data set contained 4 sequences from C. bowringi and 17 from other insects. The OR data set contained 36 sequences from C. bowringi (amino acids > 160 aa), and 192 from other insects. The IR data set contained 9 sequences from C. bowringi and 108 from other insects. The amino acid sequences of the genes used for phylogenetic tree construction are listed in Additional file 6: Table S2. Amino acid sequences were aligned with ClustalX 1.83 [75] and unrooted trees were constructed with MEGA5.0 [76] using the neighbour-joining method, with Poisson correction of distances (CSP, SNMP, and OR) and FastTree 2.1.7 [77] using maximum-likelihood method (OBP and IR). The species phylogenetic tree was constructed based on the alignment result of cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) genes, from different species (T. castaneum: KJ003352.1, I. typographus: KF846151.1, D. ponderosae: JQ308497.1, D. valens: EU404100.1 and A. corpulenta: the reference [19]) using MEGA5.0.

Quantitative real time-PCR validation

The expression profiles of 43 OR genes were analyzed using quantitative real time-PCR (qPCR) experiments. The qPCR was performed on an ABI 7300 (Applied Biosystems, Foster City, CA, USA) using a mixture of 10 μl 2 × TransStart Top Green qPCR SuperMix (TransGen Biotech, Beijing, China), 0.4 μl of each primer (10 μM), 2.5 ng of sample cDNA, and 6.8 μl sterilized ultrapure H2O. The reaction programs were 30 s at 94 °C, 40 cycles of 94 °C for 5 s and 60 °C for 31 s. This was followed by the measurement of fluorescence during 55–95 °C melting curve in order to detect a single gene-specific peak and to check the absence of primer dimer peaks. A single and discrete peak was detected for all primers tested. Negative controls were non-template reactions (replacing cDNA with H2O). The results were analyzed using the ABI 7300 analysis software SDS 1.4. The qPCR primers (Additional file 7: Table S3) were designed using Beacon Designer 7.9 (PREMIER Biosoft International, CA, USA).

According to a previous study [68], expression levels of these genes were calculated relative to the two most stable reference genes CbowEF1α and CbowACT1 using the Q-Gene method in Microsoft Excel-based software of Visual Basic [78, 79]. For each sample, three biological replications were performed with each biological replication measured in three technique replications.

Statistical analysis

Data (mean ± SE) form various samples were subjected to a one-way nested analysis of variance (ANOVA) followed by the least significant difference test (LSD) for mean comparison using SPSS Statistics 17.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA).

Supporting information

All the Illumina sequencing data are available from the SRA database (accession number: SRX1309381), and all of the chemosensory genes of Colaphellus bowringi were submitted to the GenBank (accession numbers: KT381483 - KT381577 and KT884510 - KT884516).

Abbreviations

RNA-seq: 

High-throughput mRNA sequencing

RPKM: 

Reads per kilobase per million mapped reads

GO: 

Gene ontology

KEGG: 

Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes

COG: 

Clusters of orthologous groups

OR: 

Odorant receptor

GR: 

Gustatory receptor

IR: 

Ionotropic receptor

OBP: 

Odorant-binding protein

CSP: 

Chemosensory protein

SNMP: 

Sensory neuron membrane protein

ORF: 

Open reading frame

TMD: 

Transmembrane domain

PCR: 

Polymerase chain reaction

qPCR: 

Quantitative real time RT-PCR

cDNA: 

Complementary DNA

ANOVA: 

Analysis of variance

SE: 

Standard error

Declarations

Acknowledgements

We thank Bachelor students Wei-Wei Zhou, Tian Tian, Xiao-Tong Zhu and Xiao-Xue Xu (Huaibei Normal University, China) for help collecting insects. We are grateful to Dr. Xiao Li (Shandong Peanut Research Institute, China) for providing the COI sequence of A. corpulenta. This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation (NO. 31240075 and 31501647) of China, Natural Science Fund of Education Department of Anhui province (NO. KJ2013A233), and Doctor Scientific Research Foundation of Huaibei Normal University, China (NO. 1500969).

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
College of Life Sciences, Huaibei Normal University
(2)
State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Green Pesticide and Agricultural Bioengineering, Key Laboratory of Green Pesticide and Agricultural Bioengineering, Ministry of Education, Guizhou University
(3)
Tea Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

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