Aphids are typical photoperiodic insects that switch from viviparous parthenogenetic reproduction typical of long day seasons to oviparous sexual reproduction triggered by the shortening of photoperiod in autumn yielding an overwintering egg in which an embryonic diapause takes place. While the involvement of the circadian clock genes in photoperiodism in mammals is well established, there is still some controversy on their participation in insects. The availability of the genome of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum places this species as an excellent model to investigate the involvement of the circadian system in the aphid seasonal response. In the present report, we have advanced in the characterisation of the circadian clock genes and showed that these genes display extensive alternative splicing. Moreover, the expression of circadian clock genes, analysed at different moments of the day, showed a robust cycling of central clock genes period and timeless. Furthermore, the rhythmic expression of these genes was shown to be rapidly dampened under DD (continuous darkness conditions), thus supporting the model of a seasonal response based on a heavily dampened circadian oscillator. Additionally, increased expression of some of the circadian clock genes under short-day conditions suggest their involvement in the induction of the aphid seasonal response. Finally, in situ localisation of transcripts of genes period and timeless in the aphid brain revealed the site of clock neurons for the first time in aphids. Two groups of clock cells were identified: the Dorsal Neurons (DN) and the Lateral Neurons (LN), both in the protocerebrum.
Barberà, M., Collantes-Alegre, J. M., & Martínez-Torres, D. (2017). Characterisation, analysis of expression and localisation of circadian clock genes from the perspective of photoperiodism in the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 83, 54–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ibmb.2017.02.006