The invasive MED/Q Bemisia tabaci genome: a tale of gene loss and gene gain.
Background: Sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci MED/Q and MEAM1/B, are two economically important invasive species that cause considerable damages to agriculture crops through direct feeding and indirect vectoring of plant pathogens. Recently, a draft genome of B. tabaci MED/Q has been assembled. In this study, we focus on the genomic comparison between MED/Q and MEAM1/B, with a special interest in MED/Q's genomic signatures that may contribute to the highly invasive nature of this emerging insect pest. Results: The genomes of both species share similarity in syntenic blocks, but have significant divergence in the gene coding sequence. Expansion of cytochrome P450 monooxygenases and UDP glycosyltransferases in MED/Q and MEAM1/B genome is functionally validated for mediating insecticide resistance in MED/Q using in vivo RNAi. The amino acid biosynthesis pathways in MED/Q genome are partitioned among the host and endosymbiont genomes in a manner distinct from other hemipterans. Evidence of horizontal gene transfer to the host genome may explain their obligate relationship. Putative loss-of-function in the immune deficiency-signaling pathway due to the gene loss is a shared ancestral trait among hemipteran insects. Conclusions: The expansion of detoxification genes families, such as P450s, may contribute to the development of insecticide resistance traits and a broad host range in MED/Q and MEAM1/B, and facilitate species' invasions into intensively managed cropping systems. Numerical and compositional changes in multiple gene families (gene loss and gene gain) in the MED/Q genome sets a foundation for future hypothesis testing that will advance our understanding of adaptation, viral transmission, symbiosis, and plant-insect-pathogen tritrophic interactions.