Molecular changes in vitellogenin gene of Spodoptera exigua after long-time exposure to cadmium – Toxic side effect or microevolution?
Abstract The reproduction of pest insects is a continuously ongoing issue, especially in the environmental pollution context. Natural or artificial stressing factors enforce a kind of trade-off, most often between growth/survival and reproduction, which improves fitness of the organism. Harmful factors, such as cadmium, can affect the vitellogenesis leading to reduction of yolk synthesis and egg production. The aim of this study was to assess whether 130-generational selection to cadmium in food might have induced change in vitellogenesis of Spodoptera exigua . We analyzed the level of Vg gene expression in S. exigua from the control and the cadmium strain at regular time intervals within 48h after eclosion. The full sequence of Vg gene was also compared between strains. The vitellogenin gene expression in both strains was time-dependent. This dependence was more visible in the control strain. In the cadmium strain the vitellogenin expression was significantly lower, comparing with the control strain in the first day after eclosion but increased significantly in the second day. The sequenced CDS (5286bp long) of the control and the cadmium strains were translated into protein sequences containing both 1761 aa. The protein sequences comparison revealed that there is one amino acid change at aa position 1282. Multiple alignments of six orthologous proteins from different species showed that amino acid change is located in the conserved position. Long-lasting exposure to cadmium resulted in permanent mutation in vitellogenin gene. We do not know yet if the mutation can improve fitness of the cadmium-selected insects. However, we can suppose that the mutation is neutral or even beneficial. The mutation and most probably additional effects of cadmium exposure have an influence on the vitellogenin expression. Some modification in the expression of the vitellogenin receptor are also likely to be important. Highlights Pest control treatments and industrialization cause selecting pressure for insects. Spodoptera exigua was selected toward cadmium resistance for over 130 generations. Vitellogenin expression in cadmium and control strains of S. exigua was measured. Lowered expression of Vg gene in cadmium strain of S. exigua was observed. Mutation in a conservative region in Vg gene after cadmium selection was described. Graphical abstract [DISPLAY OMISSION]
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