Analysis of Odorant-Binding Proteins from an Emerging Agricultural Pest, Drosophila suzukii
- Jo Wu, Professor, Fullerton College
- Daniel Woods, President, Inscent Inc.
Drosophila suzukii is an invasive insect pest endemic to Southeast Asia that targets a variety of economically important soft-fruit crops, thus posing a serious threat to US agriculture. The pest’s range is rapidly expanding and traditional control methods, such as pesticide treatment, are ineffective, especially in certified organic farms. Are alterations in the proteins controlling odor recognition driving the change in food preference for egg-laying by Drosophila suzukii females? One class of odor recognition proteins, Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs), can potentially control this behavioral shift. Initially we used a bioinformatics analysis to compare the OBPs found in a closely related non-pest species, D. biarmipes with those found in D. suzukii to search for a change in OBPs. All known OBPs in D. biarmipes were compared to D. melanogaster in the online database, and the same was done for OBPs in D. suzukii against D. biarmipes and D. melanogaster. We identified 41 OBPs in D. suzukii and 45 in D. biarmipes. Using the identified OBP sequences we performed a transcriptome analysis of adult D. biarmipes and D. suzukii. Several of the mRNAs encoding OBPs showed changes in expression levels between the two species. This includes mRNAs encoding OBPs with expression levels that varied when comparing the male and female D. suzukii. Currently, we are focusing on two of these genes, DsuzOBP99a and DsuzOBP99b, that have greatly increased expression levels in female D. suzukii compared to female D. biarmipies. Since only females are attracted to fresh fruit these genes are potential targets for the isolation of new products to control Drosophila suzukii.