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Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

UMR INRA - Univ. Nice Sophia Antipolis - Cnrs

Evolutionary history of plant cell wall degrading enzymes in phytophagous beetles

Friday, October 3 - 11:00 - Room A010 - Inra - Sophia Antipolis

Yannick Pauchet, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, invited by ID Team: "Evolutionary history of plant cell wall degrading enzymes in phytophagous beetles".


In a world dominated by green plants whose cell walls represent the primary source of cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin (the most abundant biopolymers on the planet), the paucity of animals possessing the ability to degrade these polymers is striking. For a long time, it has been accepted that plant cell wall degrading enzymes (PCWDEs) were limited to saprophytic or phytopathogenic microorganisms. So far, all model insects whose complete genomes have been sequenced lack genes encoding such enzymes, including one of the largest groups of herbivorous insects, the Lepidoptera. In contrast, the ability of herbivorous beetles from the Chrysomeloidea and Curculionoidea to degrade these polysaccharides has recently begun to be appreciated. The presence of PCWDEs in the beetle’s digestive tract makes this degradation possible. We combine transcriptome/genome mining to phylogenetic analyses of beetle genes encoding PCWDEs, associated with the functional characterization of the corresponding proteins. Our data indicate that most of these genes have been originally acquired in beetles through several horizontal gene transfer events. We demonstrate that these gene families evolved by subfunctionalization/neofunctionalization in beetles. Our goal is to draw a close to exhaustive picture of the origins and the evolutionary history of these gene families in phytophagous beetles.