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PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35719. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035719. Epub 2012 Apr 20.

Transcriptome analysis of the Chinese white wax scale Ericerus pela with focus on genes involved in wax biosynthesis.

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  • 1Research Institute of Resources Insects, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Key Laboratory of Cultivating and Utilization of Resources Insects of State Forestry Administration, Kunming, China.



The Chinese white wax scale, Ericerus pela Chavannes is economically significant for its role in wax production. This insect has been bred in China for over a thousand years. The wax secreted by the male scale insect during the second-instar larval stage has been widespread used in wax candle production, wax printing, engraving, Chinese medicine, and more recently in the chemical, pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetics industries. However, little is known about the mechanisms responsible for white wax biosynthesis. The characterization of its larval transcriptome may promote better understanding of wax biosynthesis.


In this study, characterization of the transcriptome of E. pela during peak wax secretion was performed using Illumina sequencing technology. Illumina sequencing produced 41,839 unigenes. These unigenes were annotated by blastx alignment against the NCBI Non-Redundant (NR), Swiss-Prot, KEGG, and COG databases. A total of 104 unigenes related to white wax biosynthesis were identified, and 15 of them were selected for quantitative real-time PCR analysis. We evaluated the variations in gene expression across different development stages, including egg, first/second instar larvae, male pupae, and male and female adults. Then we identified five genes involved in white wax biosynthesis. These genes were expressed most strongly during the second-instar larval stage of male E. pela.


The transcriptome analysis of E. pela during peak wax secretion provided an overview of gene expression information at the transcriptional level and a resource for gene mining. Five genes related to white wax biosynthesis were identified.

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