Contact Chemosensory Genes Identified in Leg Transcriptome of Apis cerana cerana (Hymenoptera: Apidae)

Yali Du, Kai Xu, Weihua Ma, Wenting Su, Miaomiao Tai, Huiting Zhao, Yusuo Jiang, Xianchun Li, James Strange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Correct gustatory recognition and selection of foods both within and outside the hive by honey bee workers are fundamental to the maintenance of colonies. The tarsal chemosensilla located on the legs of workers are sensitive to nonvolatile compounds and proposed to be involved in gustatory detection. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying the gustatory recognition of foods in honey bees. In the present study, RNA-seq was performed with RNA samples extracted from the legs of 1-, 10-, and 20-d-old workers of Apis cerana cerana Fabricius, a dominant indigenous crop pollinator with a keen perception ability for phytochemicals. A total of 124 candidate chemosensory proteins (CSPs), including 15 odorant-binding proteins (OBPs), 5 CSPs, 7 gustatory receptors (GRs), 2 sensory neuron membrane proteins (SNMPs), and 95 odorant receptors (ORs), were identified from the assembled leg transcriptome. In silico analysis of expression showed that 36 of them were differentially expressed among the three different ages of A. c. cerana workers. Overall, the genes encoding OBPs and CSPs had great but extremely variable FPKM values and thus were highly expressed in the legs of workers, whereas the genes encoding ORs, GRs, and SNMPs (except SNMP2) were expressed at low levels. Tissue-specific expression patterns indicated that two upregulated genes, AcerOBP15 and AcerCSP3, were predominately expressed in the legs of 20-d-old foragers, suggesting they may play an essential role in gustatory recognition and selection of plant nectars and pollens. This study lays a foundation for further research on the feeding preferences of honey bees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2015-2029
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 23 2019


  • Apis cerana cerana
  • food selection
  • gustatory perception
  • leg transcriptome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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