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The Department of Entomology
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Herzl 229, Rehovot 7610001, ISRAEL

Tel: 08-9489223 
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Email: orlytal@savion.huji.ac.il

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2021
Kythreoti, G. ; Sdralia, N. ; Tsitoura, P. ; Papachristos, D. P. ; Michaelakis, A. ; Karras, V. ; Ruel, D. M. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. ; Schulz, S. ; et al. Volatile allosteric antagonists of mosquito odorant receptors inhibit human-host attraction. JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 2021, 296.Abstract
Odorant-dependent behaviors in insects are triggered by the binding of odorant ligands to the variable subunits of heteromeric olfactory receptors. Previous studies have shown, however, that specific odor binding to ORco, the common subunit of odorant receptor heteromers, may allosterically alter olfactory receptor function and profoundly affect subsequent behavioral responses. Using an insect cell-based screening platform, we identified and characterized several antagonists of the odorant receptor coreceptor of the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae (AgamORco) in a small collection of natural volatile organic compounds. Because some of the identified antagonists were previously shown to strongly repel Anopheles and Culex mosquitoes, we examined the bioactivities of the identified antagonists against Aedes, the third major genus of the Culicidae family. The tested antagonists inhibited the function of Ae. aegypti ORco ex vivo and repelled adult Asian tiger mosquitoes (Ae. albopictus). Binary mixtures of specific antagonists elicited higher repellency than single antagonists, and binding competition assays suggested that this enhanced repellence is due to antagonist interaction with distinct ORco sites. Our results also suggest that the enhanced mosquito repellency by antagonist mixtures is due to additive rather than synergistic effects of the specific antagonist combinations on ORco function. Taken together, these findings provide novel insights concerning the molecular aspects of odorant receptor function. Moreover, our results demonstrate that a simple screening assay may be used for the identification of allosteric modifiers of olfactory-driven behaviors capable of providing enhanced personal protection against multiple mosquito-borne infectious diseases.
Easson, M. L. A. E. ; Malka, O. ; Paetz, C. ; Hojna, A. ; Reichelt, M. ; Stein, B. ; van Brunschot, S. ; Feldmesser, E. ; Campbell, L. ; Colvin, J. ; et al. Activation and detoxification of cassava cyanogenic glucosides by the whitefly Bemisia tabaci. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS 2021, 11.Abstract
Two-component plant defenses such as cyanogenic glucosides are produced by many plant species, but phloem-feeding herbivores have long been thought not to activate these defenses due to their mode of feeding, which causes only minimal tissue damage. Here, however, we report that cyanogenic glycoside defenses from cassava (Manihot esculenta), a major staple crop in Africa, are activated during feeding by a pest insect, the whitefly Bemisia tabaci, and the resulting hydrogen cyanide is detoxified by conversion to beta-cyanoalanine. Additionally, B. tabaci was found to utilize two metabolic mechanisms to detoxify cyanogenic glucosides by conversion to non-activatable derivatives. First, the cyanogenic glycoside linamarin was glucosylated 1-4 times in succession in a reaction catalyzed by two B. tabaci glycoside hydrolase family 13 enzymes in vitro utilizing sucrose as a co-substrate. Second, both linamarin and the glucosylated linamarin derivatives were phosphorylated. Both phosphorylation and glucosidation of linamarin render this plant pro-toxin inert to the activating plant enzyme linamarase, and thus these metabolic transformations can be considered pre-emptive detoxification strategies to avoid cyanogenesis.
Neta, A. ; Gafni, R. ; Elias, H. ; Bar-Shmuel, N. ; Shaltiel-Harpaz, L. ; Morin, E. ; Morin, S. Decision support for pest management: Using field data for optimizing temperature-dependent population dynamics models. ECOLOGICAL MODELLING 2021, 440.Abstract
Insect physiology is highly dependent on the environmental temperature, and the relationship can be mathematically defined. Thus, many models that aim to predict insect-pest population dynamics, use meteorological data as input to descriptive functions that predict the development rate, survival and reproduction of pest populations. In most cases, however, these functions/models are laboratory-driven and are based on data from constant-temperature experiments. Therefore, they lack an important optimization and validation steps that test their accuracy under field conditions. Here, we developed a realistic and robust regional framework for modeling the field population dynamics of the global insect pest Bemisia tabaci. First, two non-linear functions, development rate (DR) and female reproduction (EN) were fitted to data collected in constant temperature experiments. Next, nine one-generation field experiments were conducted in order to establish a field-derived database of insect performance, representing a variety of growing conditions (different seasons, regions and host plants). Then, sensitivity analyses were performed for identifying the optimal time-scale for which the running-averaged temperatures should be fed to the model. Setting the time to 6 h (i.e., each of the 24-time steps per day represents the last 6 h average) produced the best fit (RMSD score of 1.59 days, 5.7% of the mean) between the field observations and the model simulations. We hypothesize that the 6 h `relevant biological time-scale' captures the insect's physiological memory of daily cycling temperature events. Lastly, we evaluated the potential of the developed modeling framework to serve as a decision support tool in pest-management programs by correlating the model predictions with field-observations of three pest control inspectors during 2019. The model successfully predicted the first notable appearance of the insect in the field (completion of the third generation in May). Also, the model correctly identified the sharp rise in abundance (outbreak point) in mid-July (completion of the fifth generation), and the persistent rise in abundance through August and September. Comparing the simulations of the 2018 and 2019 seasons indicated that the model can also serve as a tool for retrospective systematic assessment of major decisions. Taken together, these data demonstrate the model robustness and its potential to provide an excellent decision-making support platform in regional control of pest species.
Perez, J. ; Mendez, V. ; Yuval, B. ; Taylor, P. W. Domestication-related changes in sexual performance of Queensland fruit fly. INSECT SCIENCE 2021, 28, 1491-1503.Abstract
In Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) programs, massive numbers of insects are reared, sterilized, and released in the field to impede reproduction of pest populations. The domestication and rearing processes used to produce insects for SIT programs may have significant evolutionary impacts on life history and reproductive biology. We assessed the effects of domestication on sexual performance of laboratory reared Queensland fruit fly,Bactrocera tryoni, by comparing an old (49 generations) and a young colony (5 generations). We evaluated mating propensity, mating latency, copula duration, sperm transfer, and ability to induce sexual inhibition in mates. Overall, both males and females from the old colony had greater mating propensity than those from the young colony. Copula duration was longer when females were from the old colony. There was no evidence of sexual isolation between the colonies as males and females from the two colonies had similar propensity to mate with flies from either colony. Males from the old colony transferred more sperm regardless of which colony their mate was from. Finally, males from both colonies were similarly able to induce sexual inhibition in their mates and were also similarly able to secure copulations with already-mated females. Positive effects of domestication on sperm transfer, coupled with maintained ability to induce sexual inhibition in mates and to secure copulations with previously mated females, highlights that domestication may have little effect, or even positive effects, on some aspects of sexual performance that may advantage mass-rearedB. tryoniin SIT programs.
Palatini, U. ; Masri, R. A. ; Cosme, L. V. ; Koren, S. ; Thibaud-Nissen, F. ; Biedler, J. K. ; Krsticevic, F. ; Johnston, J. S. ; Halbach, R. ; Crawford, J. E. ; et al. Improved reference genome of the arboviral vector Aedes albopictus (vol 21, 215, 2020). GENOME BIOLOGY 2021, 22.
Kaczmarek, M. M. ; Reliszko, Z. P. ; Szuszkiewicz, J. ; Nitkiewicz, A. ; Guzewska, M. M. ; Myszczynski, K. ; Romaniewicz, M. ; Sikora, M. ; Kajko, M. ; Heifetz, Y. Profiling circulating microRNAs in the serum of pregnant and non-pregnant pigs reveals a plethora of reproductive status-dependent microRNAs. ANIMAL 2021, 15.Abstract
Circulating, non-coding RNAs, such as microRNAs (miRNAs) have been proposed to be powerful pathophysiological indicators of pregnancy in animals and humans. Since their discovery, it is known that miRNAs can take part in numerous biological processes, including cell proliferation and differentiation during early embryonic development and establishment of pregnancy. Our recent studies have indicated that maternal blood can carry miRNAs reported previously at the embryo-maternal interface in pigs. To expand the scope of our research, we tested the hypothesis that miRNAs previously identified in conceptuses, trophoblasts, endometriumand uterine lumen-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) collected before Day 20 of pregnancy can show reproductive status-dependent profiles in the serum of cyclic and pregnant crossbred pigs. Custom-designed TaqMan arrays, multiplex real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR and real-time RT-PCR allowed us to identify a number of reproductive status-dependent miRNAs in serum samples collected from pigs during the estrous cycle or pregnancy (Days 16 and 20). We found that serum samples were enriched with miRNAs involved in processes important during the estrous cycle and early pregnancy, e.g. cell sensitivity and viability, angiogenesis, embryonic cell proliferation and differentiation. Further validation revealed different abundance of ssc-miR-143-3p and sscmiR-125b in pregnant and non-pregnant animals and correlation of ssc-miR-125b levels with litter size. In addition, analyzed serum samples contained both EVs and Argonaute2 proteins, which are known to be involved in miRNA transportation and intercellular communication. In summary, we identified several circulating miRNAs that differ in abundance between cyclic and pregnant animals and could serve as potential indicators of reproductive status in pigs during breeding management. (C) 2021 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of The Animal Consortium.
Senapathi, D. ; Fruend, J. ; Albrecht, M. ; Garratt, M. P. D. ; Kleijn, D. ; Pickles, B. J. ; Potts, S. G. ; An, J. ; Andersson, G. K. S. ; Baensch, S. ; et al. Wild insect diversity increases inter-annual stability in global crop pollinator communities. PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES 2021, 288.Abstract
While an increasing number of studies indicate that the range, diversity and abundance of many wild pollinators has declined, the global area of pollinator-dependent crops has significantly increased over the last few decades. Crop pollination studies to date have mainly focused on either identifying different guilds pollinating various crops, or on factors driving spatial changes and turnover observed in these communities. The mechanisms driving temporal stability for ecosystem functioning and services, however, remain poorly understood. Our study quantifies temporal variability observed in crop pollinators in 21 different crops across multiple years at a global scale. Using data from 43 studies from six continents, we show that (i) higher pollinator diversity confers greater inter-annual stability in pollinator communities, (ii) temporal variation observed in pollinator abundance is primarily driven by the three-most dominant species, and (iii) crops in tropical regions demonstrate higher inter-annual variability in pollinator species richness than crops in temperate regions. We highlight the importance of recognizing wild pollinator diversity in agricultural landscapes to stabilize pollinator persistence across years to protect both biodiversity and crop pollination services. Short-term agricultural management practices aimed at dominant species for stabilizing pollination services need to be considered alongside longer term conservation goals focussed on maintaining and facilitating biodiversity to confer ecological stability.
Ruel, D. M. ; Vainer, Y. ; Yakir, E. ; Bohbot, J. D. Identification and functional characterization of olfactory indolergic receptors in Drosophila melanogaster. INSECT BIOCHEMISTRY AND MOLECULAR BIOLOGY 2021, 139.Abstract
Indole-sensitive odorant receptors or indolORs belong to a mosquito-specific expansion as ancient as the Culicidae lineage. Brachyceran flies appeared to lack representative members of this group despite the importance of indolics in this important group of dipterans. To explore whether indolORs occur in other brachyceran species, we searched for candidate indolORs in Drosophila melanogaster. Using phylogenetic tools, we show that D. melanogaster OR30a, OR43a, and OR49b form a distinct monophyletic lineage with mosquito indolORs. To explore a potential functional orthology with indolORs, we expressed these three Drosophila ORs in Xenopus laevis oocytes and measured their responses to a panel of indolic compounds. We provide evidence that OR30a, OR43a, and OR49b exhibit high sensitivity to indoles. Along with the recent discovery of indolORs in the housefly Musca domestica, our findings suggest that indolORs are a widespread feature of the peripheral olfactory systems of Diptera.
Daughenbaugh, K. F. ; Kahnonitch, I. ; Carey, C. C. ; McMenamin, A. J. ; Wiegand, T. ; Erez, T. ; Arkin, N. ; Ross, B. ; Wiedenheft, B. ; Sadeh, A. ; et al. Metatranscriptome Analysis of Sympatric Bee Species Identifies Bee Virus Variants and a New Virus, Andrena-Associated Bee Virus-1. VIRUSES-BASEL 2021, 13.Abstract
Bees are important plant pollinators in agricultural and natural ecosystems. High average annual losses of honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies in some parts of the world, and regional population declines of some mining bee species (Andrena spp.), are attributed to multiple factors including habitat loss, lack of quality forage, insecticide exposure, and pathogens, including viruses. While research has primarily focused on viruses in honey bees, many of these viruses have a broad host range. It is therefore important to apply a community level approach in studying the epidemiology of bee viruses. We utilized high-throughput sequencing to evaluate viral diversity and viral sharing in sympatric, co-foraging bees in the context of habitat type. Variants of four common viruses (i.e., black queen cell virus, deformed wing virus, Lake Sinai virus 2, and Lake Sinai virus NE) were identified in honey bee and mining bee samples, and the high degree of nucleotide identity in the virus consensus sequences obtained from both taxa indicates virus sharing. We discovered a unique bipartite + ssRNA Tombo-like virus, Andrena-associated bee virus-1 (AnBV-1). AnBV-1 infects mining bees, honey bees, and primary honey bee pupal cells maintained in culture. AnBV-1 prevalence and abundance was greater in mining bees than in honey bees. Statistical modeling that examined the roles of ecological factors, including floral diversity and abundance, indicated that AnBV-1 infection prevalence in honey bees was greater in habitats with low floral diversity and abundance, and that interspecific virus transmission is strongly modulated by the floral community in the habitat. These results suggest that land management strategies that aim to enhance floral diversity and abundance may reduce AnBV-1 spread between co-foraging bees.
Malka, O. ; Feldmesser, E. ; van Brunschot, S. ; Santos-Garcia, D. ; Han, W. - H. ; Seal, S. ; Colvin, J. ; Morin, S. The molecular mechanisms that determine different degrees of polyphagy in the Bemisia tabaci species complex. EVOLUTIONARY APPLICATIONS 2021, 14, 807-820.Abstract
The whitefly Bemisia tabaci is a closely related group of >35 cryptic species that feed on the phloem sap of a broad range of host plants. Species in the complex differ in their host-range breadth, but the mechanisms involved remain poorly understood. We investigated, therefore, how six different B. tabaci species cope with the environmental unpredictability presented by a set of four common and novel host plants. Behavioral studies indicated large differences in performances on the four hosts and putative specialization of one of the species to cassava plants. Transcriptomic analyses revealed two main insights. First, a large set of genes involved in metabolism (>85%) showed differences in expression between the six species, and each species could be characterized by its own unique expression pattern of metabolic genes. However, within species, these genes were constitutively expressed, with a low level of environmental responsiveness (i.e., to host change). Second, within each species, sets of genes mainly associated with the super-pathways ``environmental information processing'' and ``organismal systems'' responded to the host switching events. These included genes encoding for proteins involved in sugar homeostasis, signal transduction, membrane transport, and immune, endocrine, sensory and digestive responses. Our findings suggested that the six B. tabaci species can be divided into four performance/transcriptomic ``Types'' and that polyphagy can be achieved in multiple ways. However, polyphagy level is determined by the specific identity of the metabolic genes/pathways that are enriched and overexpressed in each species (the species' individual metabolic ``tool kit'').
Meccariello, A. ; Krsticevic, F. ; Colonna, R. ; Del Corsano, G. ; Fasulo, B. ; Papathanos, P. A. ; Windbichler, N. Engineered sex ratio distortion by X-shredding in the global agricultural pest Ceratitis capitata. BMC BIOLOGY 2021, 19.Abstract
BackgroundGenetic sex ratio distorters are systems aimed at effecting a bias in the reproductive sex ratio of a population and could be applied for the area-wide control of sexually reproducing insects that vector disease or disrupt agricultural production. One example of such a system leading to male bias is X-shredding, an approach that interferes with the transmission of the X-chromosome by inducing multiple DNA double-strand breaks during male meiosis. Endonucleases targeting the X-chromosome and whose activity is restricted to male gametogenesis have recently been pioneered as a means to engineer such traits.ResultsHere, we enabled endogenous CRISPR/Cas9 and CRISPR/Cas12a activity during spermatogenesis of the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata, a worldwide agricultural pest of extensive economic significance. In the absence of a chromosome-level assembly, we analysed long- and short-read genome sequencing data from males and females to identify two clusters of abundant and X-chromosome-specific sequence repeats. When targeted by gRNAs in conjunction with Cas9, cleavage of these repeats yielded a significant and consistent distortion of the sex ratio towards males in independent transgenic strains, while the combination of distinct distorters induced a strong bias (similar to 80%).ConclusionWe provide a first demonstration of CRISPR-based sex distortion towards male bias in a non-model organism, the global pest insect Ceratitis capitata. Although the sex ratio bias reached in our study would require improvement, possibly through the generation and combination of additional transgenic lines, to result in a system with realistic applicability in the field, our results suggest that strains with characteristics suitable for field application can now be developed for a range of medically or agriculturally relevant insect species.
Shu, R. ; Hahn, D. A. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Liburd, O. E. ; Yuval, B. ; Wong, A. C. - N. Sex-Dependent Effects of the Microbiome on Foraging and Locomotion in Drosophila suzukii. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY 2021, 12.Abstract
There is growing evidence that symbiotic microbes can influence multiple nutrition-related behaviors of their hosts, including locomotion, feeding, and foraging. However, how the microbiome affects nutrition-related behavior is largely unknown. Here, we demonstrate clear sexual dimorphism in how the microbiome affects foraging behavior of a frugivorous fruit fly, Drosophila suzukii. Female flies deprived of their microbiome (axenic) were consistently less active in foraging on fruits than their conventional counterparts, even though they were more susceptible to starvation and starvation-induced locomotion was notably more elevated in axenic than conventional females. Such behavioral change was not observed in male flies. The lag of axenic female flies but not male flies to forage on fruits is associated with lower oviposition by axenic flies, and mirrored by reduced food seeking observed in virgin females when compared to mated, gravid females. In contrast to foraging intensity being highly dependent on the microbiome, conventional and axenic flies of both sexes showed relatively consistent and similar fruit preferences in foraging and oviposition, with raspberries being preferred among the fruits tested. Collectively, this work highlights a clear sex-specific effect of the microbiome on foraging and locomotion behaviors in flies, an important first step toward identifying specific mechanisms that may drive the modulation of insect behavior by interactions between the host, the microbiome, and food.
Jose, P. A. ; Ben-Yosef, M. ; Lahuatte, P. ; Causton, C. E. ; Heimpel, G. E. ; Jurkevitch, E. ; Yuval, B. Shifting microbiomes complement life stage transitions and diet of the bird parasite Philornis downsi from the Galapagos Islands. ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY 2021, 23, 5014-5029.Abstract
Domestication disconnects an animal from its natural environment and diet, imposing changes in the attendant microbial community. We examine these changes in Philornis downsi (Muscidae), an invasive parasitic fly of land birds in the Galapagos Islands. Using a 16S rDNA profiling approach we studied the microbiome of larvae and adults of wild and laboratory-reared populations. These populations diverged in their microbiomes, significantly more so in larval than in adult flies. In field-collected second-instar larvae, Klebsiella (70.3%) was the most abundant taxon, while in the laboratory Ignatzschineria and Providencia made up 89.2% of the community. In adults, Gilliamella and Dysgonomonas were key members of the core microbiome of field-derived females and males but had no or very low representation in the laboratory. Adult flies harbour sex-specific microbial consortia in their gut, as male core microbiomes were significantly dominated by Klebsiella. Thus, P. downsi microbiomes are dynamic and shift correspondingly with life cycle and diet. Sex-specific foraging behaviour of adult flies and nest conditions, which are absent in the laboratory, may contribute to shaping distinct larval, and adult male and female microbiomes. We discuss these findings in the context of microbe-host co-evolution and the implications for control measures.
Kumar, S. ; Adiram-Filiba, N. ; Blum, S. ; Sanchez-Lopez, J. A. ; Tzfadia, O. ; Omid, A. ; Volpin, H. ; Heifetz, Y. ; Goobes, G. ; Elbaum, R. Siliplant1 protein precipitates silica in sorghum silica cells (vol 71, pg 6830, 2020). JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BOTANY 2021, 72, 6672.
Skaliter, O. ; Kitsberg, Y. ; Sharon, E. ; Shklarman, E. ; Shor, E. ; Masci, T. ; Yue, Y. ; Arien, Y. ; Tabach, Y. ; Shafir, S. ; et al. Spatial patterning of scent in petunia corolla is discriminated by bees and involves the ABCG1 transporter. PLANT JOURNAL 2021, 106, 1746-1758.Abstract
Floral guides are patterned cues that direct the pollinator to the plant reproductive organs. The spatial distribution of showy visual and olfactory traits allows efficient plant-pollinator interactions. Data on the mechanisms underlying floral volatile patterns or their interactions with pollinators are lacking. Here we characterize the spatial emission patterns of volatiles from the corolla of the model plant Petunia x hybrida and reveal the ability of honeybees to distinguish these patterns. Along the adaxial epidermis, in correlation with cell density, the petal base adjacent to reproductive organs emitted significantly higher levels of volatiles than the distal petal rim. Volatile emission could also be differentiated between the two epidermal surfaces: emission from the adaxial side was significantly higher than that from the abaxial side. Similar emission patterns were also observed in other petunias, Dianthus caryophyllus (carnation) and Argyranthemum frutescens (Marguerite daisy). Analyses of transcripts involved in volatile production/emission revealed lower levels of the plasma-membrane transporter ABCG1 in the abaxial versus adaxial epidermis. Transient overexpression of ABCG1 enhanced emission from the abaxial epidermis to the level of the adaxial epidermis, suggesting its involvement in spatial emission patterns in the epidermal layers. Proboscis extension response experiments showed that differences in emission levels along the adaxial epidermis, that is, petal base versus rim, detected by GC-MS are also discernible by honeybees.
2020
Cole, L. J. ; Kleijn, D. ; Dicks, L. V. ; Stout, J. C. ; Potts, S. G. ; Albrecht, M. ; Balzan, M. V. ; Bartomeus, I. ; Bebeli, P. J. ; Bevk, D. ; et al. A critical analysis of the potential for EU Common Agricultural Policy measures to support wild pollinators on farmland. JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY 2020, 57, 681-694.Abstract
Agricultural intensification and associated loss of high-quality habitats are key drivers of insect pollinator declines. With the aim of decreasing the environmental impact of agriculture, the 2014 EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) defined a set of habitat and landscape features (Ecological Focus Areas: EFAs) farmers could select from as a requirement to receive basic farm payments. To inform the post-2020 CAP, we performed a European-scale evaluation to determine how different EFA options vary in their potential to support insect pollinators under standard and pollinator-friendly management, as well as the extent of farmer uptake. A structured Delphi elicitation process engaged 22 experts from 18 European countries to evaluate EFAs options. By considering life cycle requirements of key pollinating taxa (i.e. bumble bees, solitary bees and hoverflies), each option was evaluated for its potential to provide forage, bee nesting sites and hoverfly larval resources. EFA options varied substantially in the resources they were perceived to provide and their effectiveness varied geographically and temporally. For example, field margins provide relatively good forage throughout the season in Southern and Eastern Europe but lacked early-season forage in Northern and Western Europe. Under standard management, no single EFA option achieved high scores across resource categories and a scarcity of late season forage was perceived. Experts identified substantial opportunities to improve habitat quality by adopting pollinator-friendly management. Improving management alone was, however, unlikely to ensure that all pollinator resource requirements were met. Our analyses suggest that a combination of poor management, differences in the inherent pollinator habitat quality and uptake bias towards catch crops and nitrogen-fixing crops severely limit the potential of EFAs to support pollinators in European agricultural landscapes. Policy Implications. To conserve pollinators and help protect pollination services, our expert elicitation highlights the need to create a variety of interconnected, well-managed habitats that complement each other in the resources they offer. To achieve this the Common Agricultural Policy post-2020 should take a holistic view to implementation that integrates the different delivery vehicles aimed at protecting biodiversity (e.g. enhanced conditionality, eco-schemes and agri-environment and climate measures). To improve habitat quality we recommend an effective monitoring framework with target-orientated indicators and to facilitate the spatial targeting of options collaboration between land managers should be incentivised.
Bohbot, J. D. ; Vernick, S. The Emergence of Insect Odorant Receptor-Based Biosensors. BIOSENSORS-BASEL 2020, 10.Abstract
The olfactory receptor neurons of insects and vertebrates are gated by odorant receptor (OR) proteins of which several members have been shown to exhibit remarkable sensitivity and selectivity towards volatile organic compounds of significant importance in the fields of medicine, agriculture and public health. Insect ORs offer intrinsic amplification where a single binding event is transduced into a measurable ionic current. Consequently, insect ORs have great potential as biorecognition elements in many sensor configurations. However, integrating these sensing components onto electronic transducers for the development of biosensors has been marginal due to several drawbacks, including their lipophilic nature, signal transduction mechanism and the limited number of known cognate receptor-ligand pairs. We review the current state of research in this emerging field and highlight the use of a group of indole-sensitive ORs (indolORs) from unexpected sources for the development of biosensors.
Li, J. ; Harari, O. A. ; Doss, A. - L. ; Walling, L. L. ; Atkinson, P. W. ; Morin, S. ; Tabashnik, B. E. Can CRISPR gene drive work in pest and beneficial haplodiploid species?. EVOLUTIONARY APPLICATIONS 2020, 13, 2392-2403. DOIAbstract
Gene drives based on CRISPR/Cas9 have the potential to reduce the enormous harm inflicted by crop pests and insect vectors of human disease, as well as to bolster valued species. In contrast with extensive empirical and theoretical studies in diploid organisms, little is known about CRISPR gene drive in haplodiploids, despite their immense global impacts as pollinators, pests, natural enemies of pests, and invasive species in native habitats. Here, we analyze mathematical models demonstrating that, in principle, CRISPR homing gene drive can work in haplodiploids, as well as at sex-linked loci in diploids. However, relative to diploids, conditions favoring the spread of alleles deleterious to haplodiploid pests by CRISPR gene drive are narrower, the spread is slower, and resistance to the drive evolves faster. By contrast, the spread of alleles that impose little fitness cost or boost fitness was not greatly hindered in haplodiploids relative to diploids. Therefore, altering traits to minimize damage caused by harmful haplodiploids, such as interfering with transmission of plant pathogens, may be more likely to succeed than control efforts based on introducing traits that reduce pest fitness. Enhancing fitness of beneficial haplodiploids with CRISPR gene drive is also promising.
Pollegioni, P. ; North, A. R. ; Persampieri, T. ; Bucci, A. ; Minuz, R. L. ; Groneberg, D. A. ; Nolan, T. ; Papathanos, P. A. ; Crisanti, A. ; Mueller, R. Detecting the population dynamics of an autosomal sex ratio distorter transgene in malariavector mosquitoes. JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY 2020, 57, 2086-2096.Abstract
The development of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes and their subsequent field release offers innovative and cost-effective approaches to reduce mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria. A sex-distorting autosomal transgene has been developed recently in G3 mosquitoes, a laboratory strain of the malaria vectorAnopheles gambiaes.l. The transgene expresses an endonuclease called I-PpoI during spermatogenesis, which selectively cleaves the X chromosome to result in similar to 95% male progeny. Following the World Health Organization guidance framework for the testing of GM mosquitoes, we assessed the dynamics of this transgene in large cages using a joint experimental modelling approach. We performed a 4-month experiment in large, indoor cages to study the population genetics of the transgene. The cages were set up to mimic a simple tropical environment with a diurnal light-cycle, constant temperature and constant humidity. We allowed the generations to overlap to engender a stable age structure in the populations. We constructed a model to mimic the experiments, and used the experimental data to infer the key model parameters. We identified two fitness costs associated with the transgene. First, transgenic adult males have reduced fertility and, second, their female progeny have reduced pupal survival rates. Our results demonstrate that the transgene is likely to disappear in <3 years under our confined conditions. Model predictions suggest this will be true over a wide range of background population sizes and transgene introduction rates. Synthesis and applications. Our study is in line with the World Health Organization guidance recommendations in regard to the development and testing of GM mosquitoes. Since the transgenic sex ratio distorter strain (Ag(PMB)1) has been considered for genetic vector control of malaria, we recorded the dynamics of this transgene in indoor-large cage populations and modelled its post-release persistence under different scenarios. We provide a demonstration of the self-limiting nature of the transgene, and identified new fitness costs that will further reduce the longevity of the transgene after its release. Finally, our study has showcased an alternative and effective statistical method for characterizing the phenotypic expression of a transgene in an insect pest population.
Palatini, U. ; Masri, R. A. ; Cosme, V, L. ; Koren, S. ; Thibaud-Nissen, F. ; Biedler, J. K. ; Krsticevic, F. ; Johnston, J. S. ; Halbach, R. ; Crawford, J. E. ; et al. Improved reference genome of the arboviral vector Aedes albopictus. GENOME BIOLOGY 2020, 21.Abstract
Background The Asian tiger mosquitoAedes albopictusis globally expanding and has become the main vector for human arboviruses in Europe. With limited antiviral drugs and vaccines available, vector control is the primary approach to prevent mosquito-borne diseases. A reliable and accurate DNA sequence of theAe. albopictusgenome is essential to develop new approaches that involve genetic manipulation of mosquitoes. Results We use long-read sequencing methods and modern scaffolding techniques (PacBio, 10X, and Hi-C) to produce AalbF2, a dramatically improved assembly of theAe. albopictusgenome. AalbF2 reveals widespread viral insertions, novel microRNAs and piRNA clusters, the sex-determining locus, and new immunity genes, and enables genome-wide studies of geographically diverseAe. albopictuspopulations and analyses of the developmental and stage-dependent network of expression data. Additionally, we build the first physical map for this species with 75% of the assembled genome anchored to the chromosomes. Conclusion The AalbF2 genome assembly represents the most up-to-date collective knowledge of theAe. albopictusgenome. These resources represent a foundation to improve understanding of the adaptation potential and the epidemiological relevance of this species and foster the development of innovative control measures.