Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Comparative transcriptome analysis of Gossypium hirsutum L. in response to sap sucking insects: aphid and whitefly

Neeraj Kumar Dubey1, Ridhi Goel1, Alok Ranjan1, Asif Idris1, Sunil Kumar Singh1, Sumit K Bag1, Krishnappa Chandrashekar1, Kapil Deo Pandey2, Pradhyumna Kumar Singh1 and Samir V Sawant1*

Author Affiliations

1 CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Rana Pratap Marg, Lucknow 226001, India

2 Department of Botany, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005, India

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:241  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-241

Published: 11 April 2013



Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is a major fiber crop that is grown worldwide; it faces extensive damage from sap-sucking insects, including aphids and whiteflies. Genome-wide transcriptome analysis was performed to understand the molecular details of interaction between Gossypium hirsutum L. and sap-sucking pests, namely Aphis gossypii (Aphid) and Bemisia tabacci (Whiteflies). Roche‚Äôs GS-Titanium was used to sequence transcriptomes of cotton infested with aphids and whiteflies for 2 h and 24 h.


A total of 100935 contigs were produced with an average length of 529 bp after an assembly in all five selected conditions. The Blastn of the non-redundant (nr) cotton EST database resulted in the identification of 580 novel contigs in the cotton plant. It should be noted that in spite of minimal physical damage caused by the sap-sucking insects, they can change the gene expression of plants in 2 h of infestation; further change in gene expression due to whiteflies is quicker than due to aphids. The impact of the whitefly 24 h after infestation was more or less similar to that of the aphid 2 h after infestation. Aphids and whiteflies affect many genes that are regulated by various phytohormones and in response to microbial infection, indicating the involvement of complex crosstalk between these pathways. The KOBAS analysis of differentially regulated transcripts in response to aphids and whiteflies indicated that both the insects induce the metabolism of amino acids biosynthesis specially in case of whiteflies infestation at later phase. Further we also observed that expression of transcript related to photosynthesis specially carbon fixation were significantly influenced by infestation of Aphids and Whiteflies.


A comparison of different transcriptomes leads to the identification of differentially and temporally regulated transcripts in response to infestation by aphids and whiteflies. Most of these differentially expressed contigs were related to genes involved in biotic, abiotic stresses and enzymatic activities related to hydrolases, transferases, and kinases. The expression of some marker genes such as the overexpressors of cationic peroxidase 3, lipoxygenase I, TGA2, and non-specific lipase, which are involved in phytohormonal-mediated plant resistance development, was suppressed after infestation by aphids and whiteflies, indicating that insects suppressed plant resistance in order to facilitate their infestation. We also concluded that cotton shares several pathways such as phagosomes, RNA transport, and amino acid metabolism with Arabidopsis in response to the infestation by aphids and whiteflies.

Gossypium hirsutum; Aphids; Whitefly; Transcriptome sequencing; Sap sucking insects; Biotic stress