Exploring the transcriptomics of polyphagy in plant-eating insects
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Entomology and Plant Pathology
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The aim of my thesis research was to gain a better understanding of the genetics underlying insect polyphagy. My thesis consisted of three objectives, each exploring a different aspect of plant-feeding insect genetics. For my first objective, I assembled and analyzed transcriptome data to study how gene expression varies across hosts of an extremely generalist insect, the lobate lac scale (Paratachardina pseudolobata). For my second objective, I examined published transcriptomes of 42 species of plant-feeding insects to test the simple idea that more generalist insects have more biochemical tools for herbivory, and express more herbivory genes. As a final part of my thesis research, I lay the foundation for an experiment to examine the role of phenotypic plasticity in the evolution of host use in aphid species.