Many lepidopteran species produce silk, cocoons, feeding tubes, or nests for protection from predators and parasites for caterpillars and pupae. Yet, the number of lepidopteran species whose silk composition has been studied in detail is very small, because the genes encoding the major structural silk proteins tend to be large and repetitive, making their assembly and sequence analysis difficult. Here we have analyzed the silk of Yponomeuta cagnagella, which represents one of the early diverging lineages of the ditrysian Lepidoptera thus improving the coverage of the order. To obtain a comprehensive list of the Y. cagnagella silk genes, we sequenced and assembled a draft genome using Oxford Nanopore and Illumina technologies. We used a silk-gland transcriptome and a silk proteome to identify major silk components and verified the tissue specificity of expression of individual genes. A detailed annotation of the major genes and their putative products, including their complete sequences and exon-intron structures is provided. The morphology of silk glands and fibers are also shown. This study fills an important gap in our growing understanding of the structure, evolution, and function of silk genes and provides genomic resources for future studies of the chemical ecology of Yponomeuta species.
Volenikova, A., Nguyen, P., Davey, P. et al. Genome sequence and silkomics of the spindle ermine moth, Yponomeuta cagnagella, representing the early diverging lineage of the ditrysian Lepidoptera. Commun Biol 5, 1281 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-04240-9
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