Open Access Research article

Transcriptomic analyses reveal the adaptive features and biological differences of guts from two invasive whitefly species

Xiao-Dong Ye1, Yun-Lin Su1, Qiong-Yi Zhao2, Wen-Qiang Xia1, Shu-Sheng Liu1 and Xiao-Wei Wang1*

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

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2014, 15:370  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-370

Published: 15 May 2014



The gut of phloem feeding insects is critical for nutrition uptake and xenobiotics degradation. However, partly due to its tiny size, genomic information for the gut of phloem feeding insects is limited.


In this study, the gut transcriptomes of two species of invasive whiteflies in the Bemisia tabaci complex, Middle East Asia Minor 1 (MEAM1) and Mediterranean (MED), were analyzed using the Illumina sequencing. A total of 12,879 MEAM1 transcripts and 11,246 MED transcripts were annotated with a significant Blastx hit. In addition, 7,000 and 5,771 gut specific genes were respectively identified for MEAM1 and MED. Functional analyses on these gut specific genes demonstrated the important roles of gut in metabolism of insecticides and secondary plant chemicals. To reveal the molecular difference between guts of MEAM1 and MED, a comparison between gut transcriptomes of the two species was conducted and 3,910 pairs of orthologous genes were identified. Based on the ratio of nonsynonymous and synonymous substitutions, 15 genes were found evolving under positive selection. Many of those genes are predicted to be involved in metabolism and insecticide resistance. Furthermore, many genes related to detoxification were expressed at an elevated level in the gut of MED compared to MEAM1, which might be responsible for the MED’s higher resistance to insecticides and environmental stresses.


The sequencing of MED and MEAM1 gut transcriptomes and extensive comparisons of MEAM1 and MED gut transcripts provide substantial sequence information for revealing the role of gut in whiteflies.

Gene expression; Genetic divergence; Gut; Transcriptome; Whitefly