Molecular cloning and expression of the vitellogenin gene and its correlation with ovarian development in an invasive pest Octodonta nipae on two host plants.
There is an ongoing relationship between host plants and herbivores. The nutrient substances and secondary compounds found in the host plant can not only impact the growth and development process of herbivores, but, more importantly, may also affect their survival and reproductive fitness. Vitellogenesis is the core process of reproductive regulation and is generally considered as a reliable indicator for evaluating the degree of ovarian development in females. Vitellogenin (Vg) plays a critical role in the synthesis and secretion of yolk protein. In this study, the full-length cDNA of the Vg gene in an alien invasive species, the nipa palm hispid beetle Octodonta nipae Maulik (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) (OnVg) was cloned and, the effect of host plant on the OnVg expression level and ovarian development was investigated. The results revealed that the OnVg was highly and exclusively expressed in adult females, but barely detectable in larvae, pupae and adult males. The relative expression level of OnVg and egg hatchability were much higher in females fed on Phoenix canariensis (their preferred host) than those fed on Phoenix roebelenii. A positive correlation relationship between OnVg expression and egg hatchability was also detected. Additionally, the anatomy of the female reproductive system showed that the ovaries of individuals fed on P. canariensis were considerably more developed than in females fed on P. roebelenii. The results may be applicable to many pest management situations through reproductive disturbance by alternating host plant species or varieties or by reproductive regulation through vitellogenesis mediated by specific endocrine hormones.