Proteomic and Transcriptomic Analyses of Fecundity in the Brown Planthopper <i>Nilaparvata lugens</i> (Stål)

As an <i>r</i>-strategy insect species, the brown planthopper (BPH) <i>Nilaparvata lugens</i> (Stål) is a serious pest of rice crops in the temperate and tropical regions of Asia and Australia, which may be due to its robust fecundity. Here we combined 2-DE comparative proteomic and RNA-seq transcriptomic analyses to identify fecundity-related proteins and genes. Using high- and low-fecundity populations as sample groups, a total of 54 and 75 proteins were significantly altered in the third and sixth day brachypterous female stages, respectively, and 39 and 54 of these proteins were identified by MALDI-TOF/TOF MS. In addition, 71 966 unigenes were quantified by Illumina sequencing. On the basis of the transcriptomic analysis, 7408 and 1639 unigenes demonstrated higher expression levels in the high-fecundity population in the second day brachypterous female adults and the second day fifth instar nymphs, respectively, and 411 unigenes were up-regulated in both groups. Of these dozens of proteins and thousands of unigenes, five were differentially expressed at both the protein and mRNA levels at all four time points, suggesting that these genes may regulate fecundity. Glutamine synthetase (GS) was chosen for further functional studies. RNAi knockdown of the GS gene reduced the fecundity of <i>N. lugens</i> by 64.6%, disrupted ovary development, and inhibited vitellogenin (Vg) expression. Our results show that a combination of proteomic and transcriptomic analyses provided five candidate proteins and genes for further study. The knowledge gained from this study may lead to a more fundamental understanding of the fecundity of this important agricultural insect pest.