Saliva is known to play a crucial role in insect feeding behavior and virus transmission. Currently, little is known about the salivary glands and saliva of thrips, despite the fact that Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (the western flower thrips) is a serious pest due to its destructive feeding, wide host range, and transmission of tospoviruses. As a first step towards characterizing thrips salivary gland functions, we sequenced the transcriptome of the primary salivary glands of F. occidentalis using short read sequencing (Illumina) technology. A de novo-assembled transcriptome revealed 31,392 high quality contigs with an average size of 605 bp. A total of 12,166 contigs had significant BLASTx or tBLASTx hits (E≤1.0E-6) to known proteins, whereas a high percentage (61.24%) of contigs had no apparent protein or nucleotide hits. Comparison of the F. occidentalis salivary gland transcriptome (sialotranscriptome) against a published F. occidentalis full body transcriptome assembled from Roche-454 reads revealed several contigs with putative annotations associated with salivary gland functions. KEGG pathway analysis of the sialotranscriptome revealed that the majority (18 out of the top 20 predicted KEGG pathways) of the salivary gland contig sequences match proteins involved in metabolism. We identified several genes likely to be involved in detoxification and inhibition of plant defense responses including aldehyde dehydrogenase, metalloprotease, glucose oxidase, glucose dehydrogenase, and regucalcin. We also identified several genes that may play a role in the extra-oral digestion of plant structural tissues including β-glucosidase and pectin lyase; and the extra-oral digestion of sugars, including α-amylase, maltase, sucrase, and α-glucosidase. This is the first analysis of a sialotranscriptome for any Thysanopteran species and it provides a foundational tool to further our understanding of how thrips interact with their plant hosts and the viruses they transmit.
Stafford-Banks, C. A., Rotenberg, D., Johnson, B. R., Whitfield, A. E., & Ullman, D. E. (2014). Analysis of the salivary gland transcriptome of frankliniella occidentalis. PLoS ONE, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094447