The pepper weevil, Anthonomus eugenii Cano (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is the main insect pest of peppers (Capsicum spp.) throughout the southern U.S. and a potential target for novel control methods that may require gene expression analyses. Careful selection of adequate reference genes to normalize RT-qPCR data is an important prerequisite for gene expression studies since the expression stability of reference genes can be affected by the experimental conditions leading to biased or erroneous results. The lack of studies on validation of reference genes for RT-qPCR analysis in A. eugenii limits the investigation of gene expression, therefore it is needed a systematic selection of suitable reference genes for data normalization. In the present study, three programs (BestKeeper, geNorm and NormFinder) were used to analyze the expression stability of candidate reference genes (β-ACT, ArgK, EF1-α, GAPDH, RPL12, RPS23, α-TUB, 18S and 28S) in A. eugenii under different experimental conditions. Our results revealed that the most stably expressed reference genes in A. eugenii varied according to the experimental condition evaluated: developmental stages (EF1-α, 18S and RPL12), sex (RPS23 and RPL12), low temperature (GAPDH and α-TUB), high temperature (α-TUB and RPS23), all temperatures (α-TUB and GAPDH), starvation (RPL12 and α-TUB), and dsRNA exposure (α-TUB and RPL12). Our study provides for the first time valuable information on appropriate reference genes that can be used in the analysis of gene expression by RT-qPCR in biological experiments involving A. eugenii.
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