NDUFA8 potentially rescues Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility in Laodelphax striatellus

J. Chen, M. K. Wang, Q. X. Xie, X. L. Bing, T. P. Li and X. Y. Hong,  Insect Sci,  2023.

The endosymbiont Wolbachia manipulates host reproduction by several strategies, one of the most important of which is cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI). CI can be rescued when Wolbachia-infected (WI) males mate with females infected with the same Wolbachia strain. However, the potential rescue mechanism of CI in the small brown planthopper Laodelphax striatellus is unclear. In this study, comparative transcriptome analysis was applied to explore the effect of Wolbachia on L. striatellus eggs. A total of 1387 differentially expressed genes were identified. RNAi of seven Wolbachia-upregulated key planthopper genes reduced egg reproduction, suggesting that Wolbachia might improve fecundity in L. striatellus by affecting these seven genes. Suppressing the expression of another upregulated gene, NDUFA8 (encoding NADH dehydrogenase [ubiquinone] 1 alpha subcomplex subunit 8-like) by RNAi significantly increased the mortality of early embryos without affecting the number of deposited eggs. Wolbachia infection upregulated the mRNA level of NDUFA8, and dsNDUFA8 treatment of WI females re-created CI-like symptoms, suggesting that NDUFA8 is associated with the rescue phenotype. Because all L. striatellus populations worldwide are infected with Wolbachia, NDUFA8 is a potential pest control target. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

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