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Keywords:

  • aphid;
  • epigenetics;
  • histone methylation;
  • polyphenism;
  • reproduction

Abstract

Aphids display extraordinary developmental plasticity in response to environmental cues. These differential responses to environmental changes may be due in part to changes in gene expression patterns. To understand the molecular basis for aphid developmental plasticity, we attempted to identify the chromatin-remodelling machinery in the recently sequenced pea aphid genome. We find that the pea aphid possesses a complement of metazoan histone modifying enzymes with greater gene family diversity than that seen in a number of other arthropods. Several genes appear to have undergone recent duplication and divergence, potentially enabling greater combinatorial diversity among the chromatin-remodelling complexes. The abundant aphid chromatin modifying enzymes may facilitate the phenotypic plasticity necessary to maintain the complex life cycle of the aphid.