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PLoS Genet. 2011 Feb 3;7(2):e1001291. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001291.

CSP and takeout genes modulate the switch between attraction and repulsion during behavioral phase change in the migratory locust.

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State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Behavioral plasticity is the most striking trait in locust phase transition. However, the genetic basis for behavioral plasticity in locusts is largely unknown. To unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying the behavioral phase change in the migratory locust Locusta migratoria, the gene expression patterns over the time courses of solitarization and gregarization were compared by oligonucleotide microarray analysis. Data analysis revealed that several gene categories relevant to peripheral olfactory perception are strongly regulated in a total of 1,444 differentially expressed genes during both time courses. Among these candidate genes, several CSP (chemosensory protein) genes and one takeout gene, LmigTO1, showed higher expression in gregarious and solitarious locusts, respectively, and displayed opposite expression trends during solitarization and gregarization. qRT-PCR experiments revealed that most CSP members and LmigTO1 exhibited antenna-rich expressions. RNA interference combined with olfactory behavioral experiments confirmed that the CSP gene family and one takeout gene, LmigTO1, are involved in the shift from repulsion to attraction between individuals during gregarization and in the reverse transition during solitarization. These findings suggest that the response to locust-emitted olfactory cues regulated by CSP and takeout genes is involved in the behavioral phase change in the migratory locust and provide a previously undescribed molecular mechanism linked to the formation of locust aggregations.

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