Decoding the genome of bloodsucking midge Forcipomyia taiwana (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae): Insights into odorant receptor expansion

Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2024 May:168:104115. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2024.104115. Epub 2024 Apr 1.


Biting midges, notably those within the Ceratopogonidae family, have long been recognized for their epidemiological significance, both as nuisances and vectors for disease transmission in vertebrates. Despite their impact, genomic insights into these insects, particularly beyond the Culicoides genus, remain limited. In this study, we assembled the Forcipomyia taiwana (Shiraki) genome, comprising 113 scaffolds covering 130.4 Mbps-with the longest scaffold reaching 7.6 Mbps and an N50 value of 2.6 Mbps-marking a pivotal advancement in understanding the genetic architecture of ceratopogonid biting midges. Phylogenomic analyses reveal a shared ancestry between F. taiwana and Culicoides sonorensis Wirth & Jones, dating back approximately 124 million years, and highlight a dynamic history of gene family expansions and contractions within the Ceratopogonidae family. Notably, a substantial expansion of the odorant receptor (OR) gene family was observed, which is crucial for the chemosensory capabilities that govern biting midges' interactions with their environment, including host seeking and oviposition behaviors. The distribution of OR genes across the F. taiwana genome displays notable clusters on scaffolds, indicating localized tandem gene duplication events. Additionally, several collinear regions were identified, hinting at segmental duplications, inversions, and translocations, contributing to the olfactory system's evolutionary complexity. Among the 156 ORs identified in F. taiwana, 134 are biting midge-specific ORs, distributed across three distinct clades, each exhibiting unique motif features that distinguish them from the others. Through weighted gene co-expression network analysis, we correlated distinct gene modules with sex and reproductive status, laying the groundwork for future investigations into the interplay between gene expression and adaptive behaviors in F. taiwana. In conclusion, our study not only highlights the unique olfactory repertoire of ceratopogonid biting midges but also sets the stage for future studies into the genetic underpinnings of their unique biological traits and ecological strategies.

Keywords: Biting midge; Ceratopogonid genome; Chemosensory receptor; Forcipomyia taiwana; Odorant receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ceratopogonidae* / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling