ResearchPad - locusts Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Juvenile hormone suppresses aggregation behavior through influencing antennal gene expression in locusts]]> A behavioral change from shy solitarious individuals to highly social gregarious individuals is critical to the formation of disastrous swarms of locusts. However, the underlying molecular mechanism of behavioral plasticity regulated by hormones is still largely unknown. Here, we investigated the effect of juvenile hormone (JH) on the behavioral transition in fourth-instar gregarious and solitarious locusts. We found that JH induced the behavioral shift of the gregarious locust from attraction to repulsion to the volatiles of gregarious locusts. The solitarious locust significantly decreased repulsion behavior after deprivation of JH by precocene or knockdown of JHAMT, a key enzyme to synthesize JH. JH application on gregarious locusts caused significant expression alteration of genes, especially the olfactory genes TO and CSP in the antennae. We further demonstrated that the JH signaling pathway suppressed aggregation behavior in gregarious locusts by increasing TO1 expression and decreasing CSP3 expression at the same time. Our results suggested that internal physiological factors can directly modulate periphery olfactory system to produce behavioral plasticity.

<![CDATA[Modelling collective motion based on the principle of agency: General framework and the case of marching locusts]]>

Collective phenomena are studied in a range of contexts—from controlling locust plagues to efficiently evacuating stadiums—but the central question remains: how can a large number of independent individuals form a seemingly perfectly coordinated whole? Previous attempts to answer this question have reduced the individuals to featureless particles, assumed particular interactions between them and studied the resulting collective dynamics. While this approach has provided useful insights, it cannot guarantee that the assumed individual-level behaviour is accurate, and, moreover, does not address its origin—that is, the question of why individuals would respond in one way or another. We propose a new approach to studying collective behaviour, based on the concept of learning agents: individuals endowed with explicitly modelled sensory capabilities, an internal mechanism for deciding how to respond to the sensory input and rules for modifying these responses based on past experience. This detailed modelling of individuals favours a more natural choice of parameters than in typical swarm models, which minimises the risk of spurious dependences or overfitting. Most notably, learning agents need not be programmed with particular responses, but can instead develop these autonomously, allowing for models with fewer implicit assumptions. We illustrate these points with the example of marching locusts, showing how learning agents can account for the phenomenon of density-dependent alignment. Our results suggest that learning agent-based models are a powerful tool for studying a broader class of problems involving collective behaviour and animal agency in general.

<![CDATA[Behavioral thermoregulation in Locusta migratoria manilensis (Orthoptera: Acrididae) in response to the entomopathogenic fungus, Beauveria bassiana]]>

Insects such as locusts and grasshoppers can reduce the effectiveness of pathogens and parasites by adopting different defense strategies. We investigated the behavioral thermopreference of Locusta migratoria manilensis (Meyen) (Orthoptera: Acrididae) induced by the fungus Beauveria bassiana, and the impact this behavior had on the fungal mycosis under laboratory conditions. By basking in higher temperature locations, infected nymphs elevated their thoracic temperature to 30–32.6 °C, which is higher than the optimum temperature (25°C) for B. bassiana conidial germination and hyphal development. A minimum thermoregulation period of 3 h/day increased survival of infected locusts by 43.34%. The therapeutic effect decreased when thermoregulation was delayed after initial infection. The fungus grew and overcame the locusts as soon as the thermoregulation was interrupted, indicating that thermoregulation helped the insects to cope with infection but did not completely rid them of the fungus. A significant enhancement in the number of haemocytes was observed in infected thermoregulating locusts, reaching levels that were even higher than those observed in the controls. In contrast, haemocyte concentration was severely reduced in infected insects that did not thermoregulate. In infected non-thermoregulating locusts, the reduction in haemocyte number was accompanied by an increase in fungal blastospore concentration that was obvious in the haemolymph by day four. In contrast, no circulating blastospores were found in the haemolymph of infected thermoregulating locusts three days post-inoculation. We also examined the phagocytic activity of infected insects in vivo by using fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labelled silica beads. The proportion of beads that was engulfed by haemocytes in infected, thermoregulating insects was similar to that in the controls throughout the experiment, whereas the rate of phagocytosis in infected, non-thermoregulating insects progressively decreased after infection. These findings demonstrated that behavioural thermoregulation can adversely affect B. bassiana mycosis in infected L. migratoria manilensis, thereby limiting the development of lethal entomopathogenic fungi in locusts. This is apparently accomplished through an increase in the levels of haemocytes, leading to greater phagocytic activity under certain environmental conditions.

<![CDATA[Biomechanical Factors in the Adaptations of Insect Tibia Cuticle]]>

Insects are among the most diverse groups of animals on Earth. Their cuticle exoskeletons vary greatly in terms of size and shape, and are subjected to different applied forces during daily activities. We investigated the biomechanics of the tibiae of three different insect species: the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) and Death’s Head cockroach (Blaberus discoidalis). In a previous work, we showed that these tibiae vary not only in geometry (length, radius and thickness) but also in material quality (Young’s modulus) and in the applied stress required to cause failure when loaded in bending. In the present work we used kinematic data from the literature to estimate the forces and stresses arising in vivo for various different activities, and thus calculated factors of safety defined as the ratio between the failure stress and the in vivo stress, adjusting the failure stress to a lower value to allow for fatigue failure in the case of frequently repeated activities. Factors of safety were found to vary considerably, being as little as 1.7 for the most strenuous activities, such as jumping or escaping from tight spaces. Our results show that these limbs have evolved to the point where they are close to optimal, and that instantaneous failure during high-stress activities is more critical than long-term fatigue failure. This work contributes to the discussion on how form and material properties have evolved in response to the mechanical functions of the same body part in different insects.

<![CDATA[A Novel Manno-Oligosaccharide Binding Protein Identified in Alkaliphilic Bacillus sp. N16-5 Is Involved in Mannan Utilization]]>

ManH, a novel substrate-binding protein of an ABC transporter, was identified from the mannan utilization gene cluster of Bacillus sp. N16-5. We cloned, overexpressed, and purified ManH and measured its binding affinity to different substrates by isothermal titration calorimetry. ManH binds to mannotriose, mannotetraose, mannopentose, and galactosyl-mannotriose with dissociation constants in the micromolar range. Deletion of manH led to decreased growth ability of the strain when cultivated in medium with manno-oligosaccharides or mannan as the carbon source. ManH belongs to a manno-oligosaccharide transporter and plays an important role in mannan utilization by Bacillus sp. N16-5.

<![CDATA[A Family of CSαβ Defensins and Defensin-Like Peptides from the Migratory Locust, Locusta migratoria, and Their Expression Dynamics during Mycosis and Nosemosis]]>

Insect defensins are effector components of the innate defense system. During infection, these peptides may play a role in the control of pathogens by providing protective antimicrobial barriers between epithelial cells and the hemocoel. The cDNAs encoding four defensins of the migratory locust, Locusta migratoria, designated LmDEF 1, 3–5, were identified for the first time by transcriptome-targeted analysis. Three of the members of this CSαβ defensin family, LmDEF 1, 3, and 5, were detected in locust tissues. The pro regions of their sequences have little-shared identities with other insect defensins, though the predicted mature peptides align well with other insect defensins. Phylogenetic analysis indicates a completely novel position of both LmDEF 1 and 3, compared to defensins from hymenopterans. The expression patterns of the genes encoding LmDEFs in the fat body and salivary glands were studied in response to immune-challenge by the microsporidian pathogen Nosema locustae and the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae after feeding or topical application, respectively. Focusing on Nosema-induced immunity, qRT-PCR was employed to quantify the transcript levels of LmDEFs. A higher transcript abundance of LmDEF5 was distributed more or less uniformly throughout the fat body along time. A very low baseline transcription of both LmDEFs 1 and 3 in naïve insects was indicated, and that transcription increases with time or is latent in the fat body or salivary glands of infected nymphs. In the salivary glands, expression of LmDEF3 was 20-40-times higher than in the fat body post-microbial infection. A very low expression of LmDEF3 could be detected in the fat body, but eventually increased with time up to a maximum at day 15. Delayed induction of transcription of these peptides in the fat body and salivary glands 5–15 days post-activation and the differential expression patterns suggest that the fat body/salivary glands of this species are active in the immune response against pathogens. The ability of N. locustae to induce salivary glands as well as fat body expression of defensins raises the possibility that these AMPs might play a key role in the development and/or tolerance of parasitic infections.

<![CDATA[Extra Molting and Selection on Nymphal Growth in the Desert Locust]]>

In insects, extra-molting has been viewed as a compensatory mechanism for nymphal growth that contributes to optimize body weight for successful reproduction. However, little is known on the capacity of extra-molting to evolve in natural populations, which limits our understanding of how selection acts on nymphal growth. We used a multi-generational pedigree, individual monitoring and quantitative genetics models to investigate the evolution of extra-molting and its impact on nymphal growth in a solitarious population of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria. Growth compensation via extra-molting was observed for 46% of the females, whose adult weight exceeded by 4% that of other females, at a cost of a 22% longer development time. We found a null heritability for body weight threshold only, and the highest and a strongly female-biased heritability for extra molting. Our genetic estimates show that (1) directional selection can act on growth rate, development time and extra-molting to optimize body weight threshold, the target of stabilizing selection, (2) extra-molting can evolve in natural populations, and (3) a genetic conflict, due to sexually antagonistic selection on extra-molting, might prevent its fixation. Finally, we discuss how antagonistic selection between solitarious and gregarious environments and/or genetic correlations between growth and phase traits might also impact the evolution of extra-molting in locusts.

<![CDATA[Identification of the C-Terminal GH5 Domain from CbCel9B/Man5A as the First Glycoside Hydrolase with Thermal Activation Property from a Multimodular Bifunctional Enzyme]]>

Caldicellulosiruptor bescii encodes at least six unique multimodular glycoside hydrolases crucial for plant cell wall polysaccharides degradation, with each having two catalytic domains separated by two to three carbohydrate binding modules. Among the six enzymes, three have one N- or C-terminal GH5 domain with identical amino acid sequences. Despite a few reports on some of these multimodular enzymes, little is known about how the conserved GH5 domains behave, which are believed to be important due to the gene duplication. We thus cloned a representative GH5 domain from the C-terminus of a multimodular protein, i.e. the bifunctional cellulase/mannanase CbCel9B/Man5A which has been reported, and expressed it in Escherichia coli. Without any appending CBMs, the recombinant CbMan5A was still able to hydrolyze a variety of mannan substrates with different backbone linkages or side-chain decorations. While CbMan5A displayed the same pH optimum as CbCel9B/Man5A, it had an increased optimal temperature (90°C) and moreover, was activated by heating at 70°C and 80°C, a property not ever reported for the full-length protein. The turnover numbers of CbMan5A on mannan substrates were, however, lower than those of CbCel9B/Man5A. These data suggested that evolution of CbMan5A and the other domains into a single polypeptide is not a simple assembly; rather, the behavior of one module may be affected by the other ones in the full-length enzyme. The differential scanning calorimetry analysis further indicated that heating CbMan5A was not a simple transition state process. To the best knowledge of the authors, CbMan5A is the first glycoside hydrolase with thermal activation property identified from a multimodular bifunctional enzyme.

<![CDATA[miR-71 and miR-263 Jointly Regulate Target Genes Chitin synthase and Chitinase to Control Locust Molting]]>

Chitin synthase and chitinase play crucial roles in chitin biosynthesis and degradation during insect molting. Silencing of Dicer-1 results in reduced levels of mature miRNAs and severely blocks molting in the migratory locust. However, the regulatory mechanism of miRNAs in the molting process of locusts has remained elusive. In this study, we found that in chitin metabolism, two crucial enzymes, chitin synthase (CHS) and chitinase (CHT) were regulated by miR-71 and miR-263 during nymph molting. The coding sequence of CHS1 and the 3’-untranslated region of CHT10 contain functional binding sites for miR-71 and miR-263, respectively. miR-71/miR-263 displayed cellular co-localization with their target genes in epidermal cells and directly interacted with CHS1 and CHT10 in the locust integument, respectively. Injections of miR-71 and miR-263 agomirs suppressed the expression of CHS1 and CHT10, which consequently altered chitin production of new and old cuticles and resulted in a molting-defective phenotype in locusts. Unexpectedly, reduced expression of miR-71 and miR-263 increased CHS1 and CHT10 mRNA expression and led to molting defects similar to those induced by miRNA delivery. This study reveals a novel function and balancing modulation pattern of two miRNAs in chitin biosynthesis and degradation, and it provides insight into the underlying molecular mechanisms of the molting process in locusts.

<![CDATA[Different Effects of Metarhizium anisopliae Strains IMI330189 and IBC200614 on Enzymes Activities and Hemocytes of Locusta migratoria L.]]>


Metarhizium is an important class of entomopathogenic fungi in the biocontrol of insects, but its virulence is affected by insect immunity. To clarify the mechanism in virulence of Metarhizium, we compared the immunological differences in Locusta migratoria L. when exposed to two strains of Metarhizium anisopliae (Ma).


The virulence of Ma IMI330189 was significantly higher than that of Ma IBC200614 to locust, and IMI330189 overcame the hemocytes and began destroying the hemocytes of locust at 72 h after spray, while locust is immune to IBC200614. IMI330189 could overcome the humoral immunity of locust by inhibiting the activities of phenol oxidase (PO), esterases, multi-function oxidases (MFOs) and acetylcholinesterases in locust while increasing the activities of glutathione-S-transferases (GSTs), catalase and aryl-acylamidase (AA). However IBC200614 inhibit the activities of GSTs and AA in locust and increase the activities of MFOs, PO, superoxide dismutase, peroxidase and chitinase in locust. The changes of enzymes activities in period of infection showed that the time period between the 2nd and the 5th day after spray is critical in the pathogenic process.


These results found the phenomenon that Ma initiatively broke host hemocytes, revealed the correlation between the virulence of Ma and the changes of enzymes activities in host induced by Ma, and clarified the critical period in the infection of Ma. So, these results should provide guidance for the construction of efficient biocontrol Ma strains.