De novo transcriptome assembly from fat body and flight muscles transcripts to identify morph-specific gene expression profiles in Gryllus firmus

Neetha Nanoth Vellichirammal, Anthony J. Zera, Rudolf J. Schilder, Cody Wehrkamp, Jean Jack M. Riethoven, Jennifer A. Brisson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Wing polymorphism is a powerful model for examining many aspects of adaptation. The wing dimorphic cricket species, Gryllus firmus, consists of a long-winged morph with functional flight muscles that is capable of flight, and two flightless morphs. One (obligately) flightless morph emerges as an adult with vestigial wings and vestigial flight muscles. The other (plastic) flightless morph emerges with fully-developed wings but later in adulthood histolyzes its flight muscles. Importantly both flightless morphs have substantially increased reproductive output relative to the flight-capable morph. Much is known about the physiological and biochemical differences between the morphs with respect to adaptations for flight versus reproduction. In contrast, little is known about the molecular genetic basis of these morph-specific adaptations. To address this issue, we assembled a de novo transcriptome of G. firmus using 141.5 million Illumina reads generated from flight muscles and fat body, two organs that play key roles in flight and reproduction. We used the resulting 34,411 transcripts as a reference transcriptome for differential gene expression analyses. A comparison of gene expression profiles from functional flight muscles in the flight-capable morph versus histolyzed flight muscles in the plastic flight incapable morph identified a suite of genes involved in respiration that were highly expressed in pink (functional) flight muscles and genes involved in proteolysis highly expressed in the white (histolyzed) flight muscles. A comparison of fat body transcripts from the obligately flightless versus the flight-capable morphs revealed differential expression of genes involved in triglyceride biosynthesis, lipid transport, immune function and reproduction. These data provide a valuable resource for future molecular genetics research in this and related species and provide insight on the role of gene expression in morphspecific adaptations for flight versus reproduction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere82129
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 8 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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