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Zeroing in on genes involved in courtship song variation in Laupala crickets

Zeroing in on genes involved in courtship song variation in Laupala crickets

OmicsBox Supported Project.

Researchers:

Background and Project Overview:

One of the primary outcomes of speciation – the formation of new species – is the generation of pre-mating barriers that prevent or greatly reduce gene flow. Behavioral changes are perhaps the most potent in the early stages of speciation. In particular, the divergent evolution of sexual communication phenotypes is a fundamental mechanism by which incipient species become reproductively isolated.

Courtship song is well-studied in insects, especially so in the dipterans (flies) and orthopterans (grasshoppers, crickets, katydids), but very few individual genes contributing to natural variation have been identified. The rapid radiation of the Laupala crickets across the Hawaiian archipelago represents an ideal system to investigate the genetic basis of courtship song variation in a speciation context. The 38 morphologically cryptic species appear to differ primarily in the rhythm of the courtship song. Male songs and female preferences for male songs are highly variable across the genus as a whole, but each species has a species-specific courtship song. Understanding which genes are involved in variation of a key trait in speciation and their individual effect on phenotype will provide invaluable information about the genes involved in the second-fastest species radiation in the world.

courtship song Laupala crickets
Courtship Laupala crickets (Entomology Today)

The Contribution of OmicsBox:

OmicsBox is an indispensable tool for working with non-model genomic and transcriptomic data. In this project, it was primarily used for functional annotation of de novo transcriptomes of two species of Laupala crickets with divergent courtship songs. The annotation pipeline uses consensus software and is extremely fast. We used the built-in BLAST, InterProScan, Gene Ontology Mapping, GSEA, and differential expression tools. In addition, to be highly repeatable, OmicsBox also provides a set of visualization tools that produce publication-ready images of your data. The amount of time saved with this tool suite is hard to overstate.

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