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Keywords:

  • Aphids;
  • olfaction;
  • chemical ecology;
  • gene evolution

Abstract

Odorant-binding proteins (OBPs) and chemosensory proteins (CSPs) are two families of small water-soluble proteins, abundant in the aqueous fluid surrounding olfactory receptor neurons in insect antennae. OBPs are involved in the first step of olfactory signal transduction, carrying airborne semiochemicals to the odorant receptors and can be classified into three groups: Classic OBPs, Plus-C OBPs and Atypical OBPs. Here, we identified and annotated genes encoding putative OBPs and CSPs in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum using bioinformatics. This identified genes encoding 13 Classic and two Plus-C OBPs and 13 CSPs. Homologous OBP sequences were also identified in nine other aphid species, allowing us to compare OBPs across several aphid and non-aphid species. We show that, although OBP sequences are divergent within a species and between different orders, there is a high similarity between orthologs within a range of aphid species. Furthermore, the phylogenetic relationships between OBP orthologs reflect the divergence of aphid evolution lineages. Our results support the ‘birth-and-death’ model as the major mechanism explaining aphid OBP sequence evolution, with the main force acting on the evolution being purifying selection.