Exploring the genetic basis for movement behavior in Ostrinia nubilalis: insights into the molecular mechanisms of behavioral transition in the European corn borer
Tuesday, November 15, 2011: 9:44 AM
Room D7, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
Known genetic factors that govern movement behaviors in Drosophila can be used to study behavioral attributes across insect Orders including agricultural pests. The behavior of lepidopteran pests can directly impact their abilities to adapt and evolve resistance to pesticides and transgenic crops in field settings. Our previous studies from Ostrinia nubilalis (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) have identified homologs of the Drosophila slowmo and shaker genes, their RNA expression profiles, and protein localization patterns in insect cells. Here we describe the validation and partial to full sequencing of 8 additional putative behavior-linked genes from O. nubilalis including the classical sitter/rover gene foraging. We have undertaken quantitative studies to elucidate the patterning of expression for the candidate behavior-linked genes in the context of wild-type O. nubilalis and laboratory colonies artificially selected for sitter and rover phenotypes. Patterns of expression for behavioral genes were consistent between individual replicates of wild-type, sitter, or rover samples, but varied for some genes when comparing selected phenotypes. These results provide evidence that artificial selection for behavioral attributes impacted the expression of some candidate genes. Ongoing studies are underway to elucidate the inheritance of behavioral genotypes in the selected laboratory strains and naturally existing O. nubilalis populations. Future studies will be aimed at addressing protein level differences for candidate genes that exhibit distinct changes at the DNA and/or RNA levels between the different selected phenotypes. This research contributes substantially to our understanding O. nubilalis behavior and its impact on potential adaptations to pesticides and transgenic crops.