EVALUATION OF FUNCTIONAL MOLECULAR SIGNATURES UNDERLYING AGGREGATION BEHAVIOUR IN DESERT LOCUST, Schistocerca gregaria
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Knowledge on the differences in phenotypic expressions of gregarious and solitary phases of the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria has extensively expanded in recent years. Some of the key pheromones that mediate gregarious behavior of desert locust have been characterized. The molecular mechanism involved in genotypic expression is, however, not well understood. Differentially expressed genes regulating aggregation behavior in the desert locust have been identified from a subtracted cDNA library of gregarious and solitarious adult reared male locusts. The potential genes identified encode energy metabolism and mitochondrial related genes and these represent the up-regulated genes that could be responsible for triggering aggregation behavior. Relative expressions revealed that the genes were up- and down - regulated in gregarious and solitary phenotypes, suggesting functional molecular mechanism that switches on and off during these differential phases and PAN production. In the proposed study, functional expression of potential genes that are hypothesized to encode these roles will be investigated to evaluate the loss of aggregation behaviour using RNA interference (RNAi) and bioassay. The knowledge generated from this work is expected to present insights into the physiological and molecular basis that may facilitate development of potential components for modulation in in vivo synthesis. This may be used to prevent aggregation in management of desert locust menace, therefore contributing closely to food security and environmental conservation.