Spodoptera littoralis genome mining brings insights on the dynamic of expansion of gustatory receptors in polyphagous noctuidae. Academic Article uri icon


  • The bitter taste, triggered via gustatory receptors, serves as an important natural defense against the ingestion of poisonous foods in animals, and the increased host breadth is usually linked to an increase in the number of gustatory receptor genes. This has been especially observed in polyphagous insect species, such as noctuid species from the Spodoptera genus. However, the dynamic and physical mechanisms leading to these gene expansions and the evolutionary pressures behind them remain elusive. Among major drivers of genome dynamics are the transposable elements but, surprisingly, their potential role in insect gustatory receptor expansion has not been considered yet. In this work, we hypothesized that transposable elements and possibly positive selection would be involved in the highly dynamic evolution of gustatory receptor in Spodoptera spp. We first sequenced de novo the full 465Mb genome of S. littoralis, and manually annotated the main chemosensory genes, including a large repertoire of 373 gustatory receptor genes (including 19 pseudogenes). We also improved the completeness of S. frugiperda and S. litura gustatory receptor gene repertoires. Then, we annotated transposable elements and revealed that a particular category of class I retrotransposons, the SINE transposons, was significantly enriched in the vicinity of gustatory receptor gene clusters, suggesting a transposon-mediated mechanism for the formation of these clusters. Selection pressure analyses indicated that positive selection within the gustatory receptor gene family is cryptic, only 7 receptors being identified as positively selected. Altogether, our data provide a new good quality Spodoptera genome, pinpoint interesting gustatory receptor candidates for further functional studies and bring valuable genomic information on the mechanisms of gustatory receptor expansions in polyphagous insect species.

published proceedings

  • G3 (Bethesda)

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Meslin, C., Mainet, P., Montagn, N., Robin, S., Legeai, F., Bretaudeau, A., ... Jacquin-Joly, E.

citation count

  • 9

complete list of authors

  • Meslin, Camille||Mainet, Pauline||Montagné, Nicolas||Robin, Stéphanie||Legeai, Fabrice||Bretaudeau, Anthony||Johnston, J Spencer||Koutroumpa, Fotini||Persyn, Emma||Monsempès, Christelle||François, Marie-Christine||Jacquin-Joly, Emmanuelle

editor list (cited editors)

  • Sethuraman, A.

publication date

  • July 2022