The invasive MED/Q Bemisia tabaci genome: A tale of gene loss and gene gain

Wen Xie, Xin Yang, Chunhai Chen, Zezhong Yang, Litao Guo, Dan Wang, Jinqun Huang, Hailin Zhang, Yanan Wen, Jinyang Zhao, Qingjun Wu, Shaoli Wang, Brad S. Coates, Xuguo Zhou, Youjun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number68
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 22 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Bemisia tabaci
  • Detoxification enzymes
  • Gene gain and loss
  • Genome
  • Invasive species
  • MED/Q
  • Symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics


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