KSEF RDE: Transcriptional Profiling of Chemosensory Tissue in the Redheaded Pine Sawfly, Neodiprion lecontei

Grants and Contracts Details


Pine sawflies in the genus Neodiprion are among the most important defoliating insects in the U.S., with frequent outbreaks that negatively impact valuable timber species. While most Neodiprion species are restricted to hosts in the genus Pinus, the number and identity of pine species used varies considerably. Our long-term research goal is to harness this well-characterized variation to test the hypothesis that host-plant specialization involves predictable genetic changes to chemosensory genes; specifically: widespread gene loss, elevated rates of molecular evolution in intact genes, and reduced gene expression. To fully understand ecological specialization, however, we must determine not only how genetic changes contribute to differences in host use between species, but also how changes in gene expression contribute to changes in host use over an individual's lifetime. Thus, the immediate goal of this project is to characterize chemosensory gene expression in different tissues, developmental stages, and sexes of the redheaded pine sawfly (N.lecontei). To do so, we propose to: (1) extract RNA from different tissues and life stages, (2) generate RNAseq data for each sample, (3) process RNAseq data and compare expression across samples, and (4) validate differentially expressed genes using qRT-PCR. This project would represent one of the most comprehensive examinations of stage- and tissue-specific chemosensory gene expression in an insect to date, thereby providing novel insights into how changes in expression mediate niche shifts over the course of development. Coupled with interspecific data, these data would enable us to ask whether the genes responsible for variation within species also contribute to differences between species. In addition,this project would yield critical data that would increase our chances of securing funding from the USDA and NSF for related proposals. Together, these projects could inform the development of novel, chemosensory-based control strategies for pine sawflies.
Effective start/end date7/1/166/30/17


  • KY Science and Technology Co Inc: $29,999.00


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