Aphids are major pests of crops, causing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage annually. Ion channel proteins are often the targets of modern insecticides and mutations in ion channel genes can lead to resistance to many leading classes of insecticides. The sequencing of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, genome has now allowed detailed in silico analysis of the aphid ion channels. The study has revealed significant differences in the composition of the ion channel families between the aphid and other insects. For example A. pisum does not appear to contain a homologue of the nACh receptor alpha 5 gene whilst the calcium channel beta subunit has been duplicated. These variations could result in differences in function or sensitivity to insecticides. The genome sequence will allow the study of aphid ion channels to be accelerated, leading to a better understanding of the function of these economically important channels. The potential for identifying novel insecticide targets within the aphid is now a step closer.
Dale, R. P., Jones, A. K., Tamborindeguy, C., Davies, T. G. E., Amey, J. S., Williamson, S., Wolstenholme, A., Field, L. M., Williamson, M. S., Walsh, T. K., & Sattelle, D. B. (2010). Identification of ion channel genes in the Acyrthosiphon pisum genome. Insect Molecular Biology, 19(s2), 141-153. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2583.2009.00975.x