Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Genomics Proteomics Bioinformatics 19 (2021) 800–814



This is an open access article under the CC BY license


Diabrotica virgifera virgifera (western corn rootworm, WCR) is one of the most destructive agricultural insect pests in North America. It is highly adaptive to environmental stimuli and crop protection technologies. However, little is known about the underlying genetic basis of WCR behavior and adaptation. More specifically, the involvement of small RNAs (sRNAs), especially microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of endogenous small non-coding RNAs that regulate various biological processes, has not been examined, and the datasets of putative sRNA sequences have not previously been generated for WCR. To achieve a comprehensive collection of sRNA transcriptomes in WCR, we constructed, sequenced, and analyzed sRNA libraries from different life stages of WCR and northern corn rootworm (NCR), and identified 101 conserved precursor miRNAs (pre-miRNAs) in WCR and other Arthropoda. We also identified 277 corn rootworm specific pre-miRNAs. Systematic analyses of sRNA populations in WCR revealed that its sRNA transcriptome, which includes PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) and miRNAs, undergoes a dynamic change throughout insect development. Phylogenetic analysis of miRNA datasets from model species reveals that a large pool of species-specific miRNAs exists in corn rootworm; these are potentially evolutionarily transient. Comparisons of WCR miRNA clusters to other insect species highlight conserved miRNA-regulated processes that are common to insects. Parallel Analysis of RNA Ends (PARE) also uncovered potential miRNA-guided cleavage sites in WCR. Overall, this study provides a new resource for studying the sRNA transcriptome and miRNA-mediated gene regulation in WCR and other Coleopteran insects.

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