By Francis DiFrank, Biological Sciences
Advisor: Joshua Benoit
Abstract: The Asian citrus psyllid, Diaphorina citri is the main vector of the destructive citrus disease called Huanglongbing also known as citrus greening which is a major threat to citrus cultivation efforts. Much work has been done to analyze their genome in an effort to better understand how to effectively control these pests. One portion of the genome that may help control these destructive mites may be that which codes for their sensory proteins specifically chemoreceptors which contribute to their olfaction. In better understanding the expression of these genes one may better understand how to develop repellants to stave off infestations in citrus cultivation projects. Through analyzing the genome and gene expression in the antennae of the D. Citri many chemosensory proteins and odorant receptors have been identified and lend further credence to understanding the gene expression in terms of their ability to sense the citrus fruits which they prey upon. Although the mechanisms by which olfaction in D. Citri is not completely understood the mechanisms by which these sensory proteins function are varied mostly into two major groups for olfaction and gustation. Specifically, in this analysis, the odorant-binding proteins located in the antennae were the genes being focused on. Using RNA-sequencing to analyze the data multiple OBPs were identified within the antennae of D. Citri. This study seeks to provide further insights into the molecular basis of chemoreception in this pest to further the understanding of insect olfaction and the role it plays between olfaction and biological processes.