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Analysis of a native whitefly transcriptome and its sequence divergence with two invasive whitefly species

Xiao-Wei Wang1*, Qiong-Yi Zhao2, Jun-Bo Luan1, Yu-Jun Wang1, Gen-Hong Yan1 and Shu-Sheng Liu1*

Author affiliations

1 Ministry of Agriculture Key Laboratory of Agricultural Entomology, Institute of Insect Sciences, Zhejiang University, 866 Yuhangtang Road, Hangzhou, 310058, China

2 The University of Queensland, Queensland Brain Institute, Brisbane, Qld, 4072, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2012, 13:529  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-529

Published: 4 October 2012



Genomic divergence between invasive and native species may provide insight into the molecular basis underlying specific characteristics that drive the invasion and displacement of closely related species. In this study, we sequenced the transcriptome of an indigenous species, Asia II 3, of the Bemisia tabaci complex and compared its genetic divergence with the transcriptomes of two invasive whiteflies species, Middle East Asia Minor 1 (MEAM1) and Mediterranean (MED), respectively.


More than 16 million reads of 74 base pairs in length were obtained for the Asia II 3 species using the Illumina sequencing platform. These reads were assembled into 52,535 distinct sequences (mean size: 466 bp) and 16,596 sequences were annotated with an E-value above 10-5. Protein family comparisons revealed obvious diversification among the transcriptomes of these species suggesting species-specific adaptations during whitefly evolution. On the contrary, substantial conservation of the whitefly transcriptomes was also evident, despite their differences. The overall divergence of coding sequences between the orthologous gene pairs of Asia II 3 and MEAM1 is 1.73%, which is comparable to the average divergence of Asia II 3 and MED transcriptomes (1.84%) and much higher than that of MEAM1 and MED (0.83%). This is consistent with the previous phylogenetic analyses and crossing experiments suggesting these are distinct species. We also identified hundreds of highly diverged genes and compiled sequence identify data into gene functional groups and found the most divergent gene classes are Cytochrome P450, Glutathione metabolism and Oxidative phosphorylation. These results strongly suggest that the divergence of genes related to metabolism might be the driving force of the MEAM1 and Asia II 3 differentiation. We also analyzed single nucleotide polymorphisms within the orthologous gene pairs of indigenous and invasive whiteflies which are helpful for the investigation of association between allelic and phenotypes.


Our data present the most comprehensive sequences for the indigenous whitefly species Asia II 3. The extensive comparisons of Asia II 3, MEAM1 and MED transcriptomes will serve as an invaluable resource for revealing the genetic basis of whitefly invasion and the molecular mechanisms underlying their biological differences.

Bemisia tabaci; Biological invasion; Genetic divergence; Indigenous species; Next generation sequencing; Transcriptome; Whitefly