Meeting Abstract

P3.90  Friday, Jan. 6  Investigation of the role of Aubergine RNA-binding proteins in the reproductive plasticity of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum ABDELHADY, A; CORTES, R*; MUSUMECI, S; SRINIVASAN, D; SHIGENOBU, S.; STERN, D; KOBAYASHI, S; Rowan University,NJ; Rowan University,NJ; Rowan University,NJ; Rowan University,NJ; NIBB,Japan; Howard Hughes Medical Institute,MD; NIBB,Japan

Environmental changes can elicit alterations in the form, behavior and/or physiology of all species, and this developmental response to environment is known as phenotypic plasticity. Despite its ubiquity, the molecular basis for phenotypic plasticity is not fully understood. The pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, serves as a model for an extreme form of phenotypic plasticity, known as polyphenism. Changes in photoperiod stimulate a switch in female aphid reproductive mode from asexual to sexual reproduction over the course of one generation without changes in genotype. This reproductive polyphenism results in female aphids with ovaries of one of two types: sexual ovaries (producing haploid oocytes via meiosis), or asexual ovaries (producing identical diploid aphid clones via parthenogenesis). To better understand how aphid ovaries could produce different outputs, we surveyed the transcriptomes of sexual and asexual ovaries using RNA-seq. Among genes that exhibited greater than two-fold differences in gene expression between sexual and asexual ovaries, we identified several aubergine paralogs, which encode for germline-specific members of the Argonaute small RNA-binding protein family. The A. pisum genome contains eight aubergine paralogs and at least two piwi paralogs. We are currently comparing the expression patterns of these aphid aubergine paralogs between asexual and sexual aphid ovaries. Aubergine proteins in other species are thought to help suppress the activity of transposable elements, which are found in high quantities throughout the A. pisum genome. Together, these experiments will help elucidate a potential relationship between aubergine paralogs and aphid reproductive plasticity.