A spatiotemporal atlas of the lepidopteran pest Helicoverpa armigera midgut provides insights into nutrient processing and pH regulation

BMC Genomics. 2022 Jan 24;23(1):75. doi: 10.1186/s12864-021-08274-x.


Background: Caterpillars from the insect order Lepidoptera are some of the most widespread and destructive agricultural pests. Most of their impact is at the larval stage, where the midgut epithelium mediates the digestion and absorption of an astonishing amount of food. Although this tissue has been the subject of frequent investigation in Lepidoptera, a comprehensive expression atlas has yet to be generated.

Results: Here, we perform RNA-sequencing and proteomics on the gut of the polyphagous pest Helicoverpa armigera across, life stages, diet types, and compartments of the anterior-posterior axis. A striking relationship between the structural homology and expression pattern of a group of sugar transporters was observed in the early larval stages. Further comparisons were made among the spatial compartments of the midgut, which suggested a putative role for vATPases and SLC9 transporters in the generation of alkaline conditions in the H. armigera midgut.

Conclusions: This comprehensive resource will aid the scientific community in understanding lepidopteran gut physiology in unprecedented resolution. It is hoped that this study advances the understanding of the lepidopteran midgut and also facilitates functional work in this field.

Keywords: Expression atlas; Helicoverpa; Lepidoptera; Midgut.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Digestive System
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Larva
  • Moths*
  • Nutrients