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A de novo transcriptome of the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, to identify candidate transcripts for diapause preparation

Monica F Poelchau1*, Julie A Reynolds2, David L Denlinger2, Christine G Elsik1 and Peter A Armbruster1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets NW, Washington, DC, USA

2 Department of Entomology, Ohio State University, 318 W 12th Ave., Columbus, Ohio, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:619  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-619

Published: 20 December 2011



Many temperate insects survive the harsh conditions of winter by undergoing photoperiodic diapause, a pre-programmed developmental arrest initiated by short day lengths. Despite the well-established ecological significance of photoperiodic diapause, the molecular basis of this crucial adaptation remains largely unresolved. The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus (Skuse), represents an outstanding emerging model to investigate the molecular basis of photoperiodic diapause in a well-defined ecological and evolutionary context. Ae. albopictus is a medically significant vector and is currently considered the most invasive mosquito in the world. Traits related to diapause appear to be important factors contributing to the rapid spread of this mosquito. To generate novel sequence information for this species, as well as to discover transcripts involved in diapause preparation, we sequenced the transcriptome of Ae. albopictus oocytes destined to become diapausing or non-diapausing pharate larvae.


454 GS-FLX transcriptome sequencing yielded >1.1 million quality-filtered reads, which we assembled into 69,474 contigs (N50 = 1,009 bp). Our contig filtering approach, where we took advantage of strong sequence similarity to the fully sequenced genome of Aedes aegypti, as well as other reference organisms, resulted in 11,561 high-quality, conservative ESTs. Differential expression estimates based on normalized read counts revealed 57 genes with higher expression, and 257 with lower expression under diapause-inducing conditions. Analysis of expression by qPCR for 47 of these genes indicated a high correlation of expression levels between 454 sequence data and qPCR, but congruence of statistically significant differential expression was low. Seven genes identified as differentially expressed based on qPCR have putative functions that are consistent with the insect diapause syndrome; three genes have unknown function and represent novel candidates for the transcriptional basis of diapause.


Our transcriptome database provides a rich resource for the comparative genomics and functional genetics of Ae. albopictus, an invasive and medically important mosquito. Additionally, the identification of differentially expressed transcripts related to diapause enriches the limited knowledge base for the molecular basis of insect diapause, in particular for the preparatory stage. Finally, our analysis illustrates a useful approach that draws from a closely related reference genome to generate high-confidence ESTs in a non-model organism.