Background: The green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer), is a world-wide insect pest capable of infesting more than 40 plant families, including many crop species. However, despite the significant damage inflicted by M. persicae in agricultural systems through direct feeding damage and by its ability to transmit plant viruses, limited genomic information is available for this species.
Results: Sequencing of 16 M. persicae cDNA libraries generated 26,669 expressed sequence tags (ESTs). Aphids for library construction were raised on Arabidopsis thaliana, Nicotiana benthamiana, Brassica oleracea, B. napus, and Physalis floridana (with and without Potato leafroll virus infection). The M. persicae cDNA libraries include ones made from sexual and asexual whole aphids, guts, heads, and salivary glands. In silico comparison of cDNA libraries identified aphid genes with tissue-specific expression patterns, and gene expression that is induced by feeding on Nicotiana benthamiana. Furthermore, 2423 genes that are novel to science and potentially aphid-specific were identified. Comparison of cDNA data from three aphid lineages identified single nucleotide polymorphisms that can be used as genetic markers and, in some cases, may represent functional differences in the protein products. In particular, non-conservative amino acid substitutions in a highly expressed gut protease may be of adaptive significance for M. persicae feeding on different host plants. The Agilent eArray platform was used to design an M. persicae oligonucleotide microarray representing over 10,000 unique genes.
Conclusion: New genomic resources have been developed for M. persicae, an agriculturally important insect pest. These include previously unknown sequence data, a collection of expressed genes, molecular markers, and a DNA microarray that can be used to study aphid gene expression. These resources will help elucidate the adaptations that allow M. persicae to develop compatible interactions with its host plants, complementing ongoing work illuminating plant molecular responses to phloem-feeding insects.