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Open Access Research article

Functional genomics of the horn fly, Haematobia irritans (Linnaeus, 1758)

Lorena Torres1, Consuelo Almazán1*, Nieves Ayllón2, Ruth C Galindo2, Rodrigo Rosario-Cruz3, Héctor Quiroz-Romero4 and José de la Fuente25

Author Affiliations

1 Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, Km. 5 carretera Victoria-Mante, CP 87000 Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexico

2 Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC (CSIC-UCLM-JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13005 Ciudad Real, Spain

3 Centro Nacional de Investigación Disciplinaria en Parasitología Veterinaria, Carretera Federal Cuernavaca-Cuautla 8534, Col Progreso, Jiutepec, Morelos. CP 62550, Mexico

4 Departamento de Parasitología, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, D.F. CP 04510, Mexico

5 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:105  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-105

Published: 10 February 2011

Abstract

Background

The horn fly, Haematobia irritans (Linnaeus, 1758) (Diptera: Muscidae) is one of the most important ectoparasites of pastured cattle. Horn flies infestations reduce cattle weight gain and milk production. Additionally, horn flies are mechanical vectors of different pathogens that cause disease in cattle. The aim of this study was to conduct a functional genomics study in female horn flies using Expressed Sequence Tags (EST) analysis and RNA interference (RNAi).

Results

A cDNA library was made from whole abdominal tissues collected from partially fed adult female horn flies. High quality horn fly ESTs (2,160) were sequenced and assembled into 992 unigenes (178 contigs and 814 singlets) representing molecular functions such as serine proteases, cell metabolism, mitochondrial function, transcription and translation, transport, chromatin structure, vitellogenesis, cytoskeleton, DNA replication, cell response to stress and infection, cell proliferation and cell-cell interactions, intracellular trafficking and secretion, and development. Functional analyses were conducted using RNAi for the first time in horn flies. Gene knockdown by RNAi resulted in higher horn fly mortality (protease inhibitor functional group), reduced oviposition (vitellogenin, ferritin and vATPase groups) or both (immune response and 5'-NUC groups) when compared to controls. Silencing of ubiquitination ESTs did not affect horn fly mortality and ovisposition while gene knockdown in the ferritin and vATPse functional groups reduced mortality when compared to controls.

Conclusions

These results advanced the molecular characterization of this important ectoparasite and suggested candidate protective antigens for the development of vaccines for the control of horn fly infestations.