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Insects are ecotothermic organisms. Their development, survival, reproduction as well as distribution and abundance are affected by temperature. Heat shock protein (HSP) gene expression is closely associated with temperature variation and influences the adaptation of organisms to adverse environments. The beetle Agasicles hygrophila has successfully been used for biological control of the invasive plant alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides). As A. hygrophila populations are substantially inhibited by high temperatures in the summer, increasing global temperatures may limit the efficacy of this control agent. We previously established that A. hygrophila eggs have low tolerance to heat and this factored into the decreased numbers of A. hygrophila beetles at temperatures of 37.5°C and above. Here, we identified 26 HSP genes in A. hygrophila and examined the relationship between the transcript levels of these genes and heat tolerance. The temperature at which the expression of these 21 HSP genes peaked (Tpeak) was 37.5°C, which is in line with the limit of the high temperatures that A. hygrophila eggs tolerate. Therefore, we speculate that the Tpeak of HSP gene expression in eggs indicates the upper limit of temperatures that A. hygrophila eggs tolerate. This study identifies HSP genes as potential robust biomarkers and emphasizes that determining species' heat tolerance in their natural habitats remains an important consideration for biocontrol. HSP gene expression data provide information about a species' heat tolerance and may be used to predict its geographical distribution. © The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


Dong Jia, Yan-Hong Liu, Bin Zhang, Zhou-Yu Ji, Yuan-Xin Wang, Ling-Ling Gao, Rui-Yan Ma. Induction of Heat Shock Protein Genes is the Hallmark of Egg Heat Tolerance in Agasicles hygrophila (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Journal of economic entomology. 2020 Aug 13;113(4):1972-1981

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PMID: 32449773

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