De novo Assembly of the Burying Beetle Nicrophorus orbicollis (Coleoptera: Silphidae) Transcriptome Across Developmental Stages with Identification of Key Immune Transcripts

J Genomics. 2018 Apr 10:6:41-52. doi: 10.7150/jgen.24228. eCollection 2018.


Burying beetles (Nicrophorus spp.) are among the relatively few insects that provide parental care while not belonging to the eusocial insects such as ants or bees. This behavior incurs energy costs as evidenced by immune deficits and shorter life-spans in reproducing beetles. In the absence of an assembled transcriptome, relatively little is known concerning the molecular biology of these beetles. This work details the assembly and analysis of the Nicrophorus orbicollis transcriptome at multiple developmental stages. RNA-Seq reads were obtained by next-generation sequencing and the transcriptome was assembled using the Trinity assembler. Validation of the assembly was performed by functional characterization using Gene Ontology (GO), Eukaryotic Orthologous Groups (KOG), and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analyses. Differential expression analysis highlights developmental stage-specific expression patterns, and immunity-related transcripts are discussed. The data presented provides a valuable molecular resource to aid further investigation into immunocompetence throughout this organism's sexual development.

Keywords: Nicrophorus orbicollis; burying beetle; de novo assembly; immunity; parental care; transcriptome.