Comprehensive survey of developmental genes in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum: frequent lineage-specific duplications and losses of developmental genes


Shuji Shigenobu, Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience, National Institute for Basic Biology, Higashiyama, Myodaiji, Okazaki 444-8787, Japan. Tel.: +81 564 59 5875; fax: +81 564 59 5879; e-mail:


Aphids exhibit unique attributes, such as polyphenisms and specialized cells to house endosymbionts, that make them an interesting system for studies at the interface of ecology, evolution and development. Here we present a comprehensive characterization of the developmental genes in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and compare our results to other sequenced insects. We investigated genes involved in fundamental developmental processes such as establishment of the body plan and organogenesis, focusing on transcription factors and components of signalling pathways. We found that most developmental genes were well conserved in the pea aphid, although many lineage-specific gene duplications and gene losses have occurred in several gene families. In particular, genetic components of transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) Wnt, JAK/STAT (Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator of transcription) and EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) pathways appear to have been significantly modified in the pea aphid.