Aphids feature complex life cycles, which in the case of many agriculturally important species involve primary and secondary host plant species. Whilst host alternation between primary and secondary host can occur in the field depending on host availability and the environment, aphid populations maintained as laboratory stocks generally are kept under conditions that allow asexual reproduction by parthenogenesis on secondary hosts. We used Myzus cerasi (black cherry aphid) to assess aphid transcriptional differences between populations collected from primary hosts in the field and those adapted to secondary hosts under controlled environment conditions. Transfer of M. cerasi collected from local cherry trees to reported secondary host species resulted in low survival rates. Moreover, aphids were unable to survive on the secondary host land cress, unless first adapted to another secondary host, cleavers. Transcriptome analyses of the different aphid populations (field collected and adapted) revealed extensive transcriptional plasticity to a change in environment, with predominantly genes involved in redox reactions differentially regulated. Most of the differentially expressed genes were duplicated and we found evidence for differential exon usage. Our data suggest that aphid adaptation to different environments may pose a major hurdle and leads to extensive gene expression changes.
- aphid host adaptation
- laboratory environment