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Chemosensory genes in the head of Spodoptera litura larvae

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2021

Lu-Lu Li
College of Life Sciences, Huaibei Normal University, 100 Dongshan Road, Huaibei235000, China
Ji-Wei Xu
College of Life Sciences, Huaibei Normal University, 100 Dongshan Road, Huaibei235000, China
Wei-Chen Yao
College of Life Sciences, Huaibei Normal University, 100 Dongshan Road, Huaibei235000, China
Hui-Hui Yang
College of Life Sciences, Huaibei Normal University, 100 Dongshan Road, Huaibei235000, China
Youssef Dewer
Bioassay Research Department, Central Agricultural Pesticide Laboratory, Agricultural Research Center, 7 Nadi El-Seid Street, Dokki 12618Giza, Egypt
Fan Zhang
Key Laboratory of Animal Resistance Research, College of Life Science, Shandong Normal University, 88 East Wenhua Road, Jinan250014, China
Xiu-Yun Zhu*
College of Life Sciences, Huaibei Normal University, 100 Dongshan Road, Huaibei235000, China
Ya-Nan Zhang*
College of Life Sciences, Huaibei Normal University, 100 Dongshan Road, Huaibei235000, China
Author for correspondence: Xiu-Yun Zhu, Email:; Ya-Nan Zhang, Email:
Author for correspondence: Xiu-Yun Zhu, Email:; Ya-Nan Zhang, Email:


The tobacco cutworm Spodoptera litura (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a polyphagous pest with a highly selective and sensitive chemosensory system involved in complex physiological behaviors such as searching for food sources, feeding, courtship, and oviposition. However, effective management strategies for controlling the insect pest populations under threshold levels are lacking. Therefore, there is an urgent need to formulate eco-friendly pest control strategies based on the disruption of the insect chemosensory system. In this study, we identified 158 putative chemosensory genes based on transcriptomic and genomic data for S. litura, including 45 odorant-binding proteins (OBPs, nine were new), 23 chemosensory proteins (CSPs), 60 odorant receptors (ORs, three were new), and 30 gustatory receptors (GRs, three were new), a number higher than those reported by previous transcriptome studies. Subsequently, we constructed phylogenetic trees based on these genes in moths and analyzed the dynamic expression of various genes in head capsules across larval instars using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Nine genes–SlitOBP8, SlitOBP9, SlitOBP25, SlitCSP1, SlitCSP7, SlitCSP18, SlitOR34, SlitGR240, and SlitGR242–were highly expressed in the heads of 3- to 5-day-old S. litura larvae. The genes differentially expressed in olfactory organs during larval development might play crucial roles in the chemosensory system of S. litura larvae. Our findings substantially expand the gene inventory for S. litura and present potential target genes for further studies on larval feeding in S. litura.

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Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

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