The transposable element-rich genome of the cereal pest Sitophilus oryzae

BMC Biol. 2021 Nov 9;19(1):241. doi: 10.1186/s12915-021-01158-2.


Background: The rice weevil Sitophilus oryzae is one of the most important agricultural pests, causing extensive damage to cereal in fields and to stored grains. S. oryzae has an intracellular symbiotic relationship (endosymbiosis) with the Gram-negative bacterium Sodalis pierantonius and is a valuable model to decipher host-symbiont molecular interactions.

Results: We sequenced the Sitophilus oryzae genome using a combination of short and long reads to produce the best assembly for a Curculionidae species to date. We show that S. oryzae has undergone successive bursts of transposable element (TE) amplification, representing 72% of the genome. In addition, we show that many TE families are transcriptionally active, and changes in their expression are associated with insect endosymbiotic state. S. oryzae has undergone a high gene expansion rate, when compared to other beetles. Reconstruction of host-symbiont metabolic networks revealed that, despite its recent association with cereal weevils (30 kyear), S. pierantonius relies on the host for several amino acids and nucleotides to survive and to produce vitamins and essential amino acids required for insect development and cuticle biosynthesis.

Conclusions: Here we present the genome of an agricultural pest beetle, which may act as a foundation for pest control. In addition, S. oryzae may be a useful model for endosymbiosis, and studying TE evolution and regulation, along with the impact of TEs on eukaryotic genomes.

Keywords: Coleoptera; Endosymbiosis; Evolution; Genome; Immunity; Sitophilus oryzae; Transposable elements; Weevil.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Coleoptera*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics
  • Edible Grain
  • Humans
  • Weevils* / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements