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Thitarodes armoricanus is a medicinal and economically important Lepidopteran insect species. The larvae infected by Paecilomyces hepiali survive no more than four days, while those infected by Ophiocordyceps sinensis can survive for several months before mummification. This provides a valuable comparative system to study interactions between an insect host and different pathogenic fungi. By using the T. armoricanus genome, a time-course transcriptome analysis of the whole larvae without guts was performed to explore the larvae response to P. hepiali and O. sinensis infection. A total of 3106 differentially expressed genes in five clusters were identified. The genes involved in coagulation and multiple metabolisms were both suppressed after P. hepiali or O. sinensis infection, whereas those related to environmental information responses, cell processes, biotic stimulus, and immunity (such as cecropin (CEC)) were elevated. The rapid death of T. armoricanus after P. hepiali infection might be caused by osmotic imbalance, immunocompromise (such as DEFs and GLVs), and nervous system dysfunction (glutamatergic synapse). Up-regulation of the genes related to cuticle structure, nervous system (such as neurotrophin signal pathway and dopaminergic synapse) and immune effectors (such as attacin (ATT) and proline-rich antimicrobial peptide 1 (PRAMP1)) in T. armoricanus, may contribute to the co-existence of T. armoricanus and O. sinensis. This study provides a global view and potential key genes of the interaction between T. armoricanus and two fungal entomopathogens.

Keywords: Ophiocordyceps sinensis; Paecilomyces hepiali; Thitarodes armoricanus; immunity; infection; transcriptome.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Paecilomyces hepialiHost Immunocompromise (Thitarodes armoricanus)Harmful
Paecilomyces hepialiIncreased Mortality RateHarmful
Paecilomyces hepialiNervous System Dysfunction in HostHarmful
Paecilomyces hepialiOsmotic Imbalance Prevention in Thitarodes ArmoricanusHarmful

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