The pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella, is a world-wide pest of cotton and in some parts of the cotton growing region is controlled by the mating disruption technique using synthetic sex pheromone. The sex pheromone consists of two compounds, (Z,Z)- and (Z,E)-7, 11-hexadecadienyl acetates, in about a 50:50 ratio. However, recently, a population with sex pheromone compound ratios of about 62:38 were found in cotton fields that use mating disruption in Israel. To investigate how the change developed, we compared the pheromone gland transcriptomes between a reference laboratory population and a population obtained from an Israeli cotton field utilizing mating disruption. We analyzed four biological replicates from each population and found transcripts encoding 17 desaturases, 8 reductases, and 17 candidate acetyltransferases in both populations, which could be involved in sex pheromone biosynthesis. The expression abundance of some genes between the two populations was different. Some desaturases and candidate acetyltransferases were found to have mutated in one of the populations. The differentially expressed genes play potential roles in sex pheromone biosynthesis and could be involved in causing altered female sex pheromone ratios in the field population.
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