De novo transcriptome assemblies of four xylem sap-feeding insects

Text - scientific article/review article


Spittle bugs and sharpshooters are well-known xylem sap-feeding insects and vectors of the phytopathogenic bacterium Xylella fastidiosa (Wells), a causal agent of Pierce's disease of grapevines and other crop diseases. Specialized feeding on nutrient-deficient xylem sap is relatively rare among insect herbivores, and only limited genomic and transcriptomic information has been generated for xylem-sap feeders. To develop a more comprehensive understanding of biochemical adaptations and symbiotic relationships that support survival on a nutritionally austere dietary source, transcriptome assemblies for three sharpshooter species and one spittlebug species were produced. Trinity-based de novo transcriptome assemblies were generated for all four xylem-sap feeders using raw sequencing data originating from whole-insect preps. Total transcripts for each species ranged from 91 384 for Cuerna arida to 106 998 for Homalodisca liturata with transcript totals for Graphocephala atropunctata and the spittlebug Clastoptera arizonana falling in between. The percentage of transcripts comprising complete open reading frames ranged from 60% for H. liturata to 82% for C. arizonana. Bench-marking universal single-copy orthologs analyses for each dataset indicated quality assemblies and a high degree of completeness for all four species. These four transcriptomes represent a significant expansion of data for insect herbivores that feed exclusively on xylem sap, a nutritionally deficient dietary source relative to other plant tissues and fluids. Comparison of transcriptome data with insect herbivores that utilize other dietary sources may illuminate fundamental differences in the biochemistry of dietary specialization.


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  • Clastoptera
  • Graphocephala atropunctata
  • Homalodisca liturata
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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