Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Role of digestive protease enzymes and related genes in host plant adaptation of a polyphagous pest, Spodoptera frugiperda.

Abstract

The evolutionary success of phytophagous insects depends on their ability to efficiently exploit plants as a source of energy for survival. Herbivorous insects largely depend on the efficiency, flexibility, and diversity of their digestive physiology and sophistication of their detoxification system to use chemically diverse host plants as food sources. The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), is a polyphagous pest of many commercially important crops. To elucidate the ability of this insect pest to adapt to host plant mechanisms, we evaluated the impact of primary (corn) and alternate (rice) host plants after 11 generations on gut digestive enzymatic activity and expression profiles of related genes. Results indicated that the total protease and class-specific trypsin- and chymotrypsin-like protease activity of S. frugiperda significantly differed among host plant treatments. The class-specific protease profiles greatly differed in S. frugiperda midguts upon larval exposure to different treatments with inhibitors compared with treatments without inhibitors. Similarly, the single and cumulative effects of the enzyme-specific inhibitors TLCK, TPCK, and E-64 significantly increased larval mortality and reduced larval growth/mass across different plant treatments. Furthermore, the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction results revealed increased transcription of two trypsin (SfTry-3, SfTry-7) and one chymotrypsin gene (Sfchym-9), which indicated that they have roles in host plant adaptation. Knockdown of these genes resulted in significantly reduced mRNA expression levels of the trypsin genes. This was related to the increased mortality observed in treatments compared with the dsRED control. This result indicates possible roles of S. frugiperda gut digestive enzymes and related genes in host plant adaptation.