Evolutionary conservation of candidate osmoregulation genes in plant phloem sap-feeding insects

Insect Mol Biol. 2016 Jun;25(3):251-8. doi: 10.1111/imb.12215. Epub 2016 Feb 20.


The high osmotic pressure generated by sugars in plant phloem sap is reduced in phloem-feeding aphids by sugar transformations and facilitated water flux in the gut. The genes mediating these osmoregulatory functions have been identified and validated empirically in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum: sucrase 1 (SUC1), a sucrase in glycoside hydrolase family 13 (GH13), and aquaporin 1 (AQP1), a member of the Drosophila integral protein (DRIP) family of aquaporins. Here, we describe molecular analysis of GH13 and AQP genes in phloem-feeding representatives of the four phloem-feeding groups: aphids (Myzus persicae), coccids (Planococcus citri), psyllids (Diaphorina citri, Bactericera cockerelli) and whiteflies (Bemisia tabaci MEAM1 and MED). A single candidate GH13-SUC gene and DRIP-AQP gene were identified in the genome/transcriptome of most insects tested by the criteria of sequence motif and gene expression in the gut. Exceptionally, the psyllid Ba. cockerelli transcriptome included a gut-expressed Pyrocoelia rufa integral protein (PRIP)-AQP, but has no DRIP-AQP transcripts, suggesting that PRIP-AQP is recruited for osmoregulatory function in this insect. This study indicates that phylogenetically related SUC and AQP genes may generally mediate osmoregulatory functions in these diverse phloem-feeding insects, and provides candidate genes for empirical validation and development as targets for osmotic disruption of pest species.

Keywords: aphid; aquaporin; osmoregulation; psyllid; sucrase; whitefly; α-glucohydrolase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquaporins / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Female
  • Genes, Insect
  • Glucosidases / genetics*
  • Hemiptera / genetics*
  • Osmoregulation / genetics*


  • Aquaporins
  • Glucosidases