Home pageArticles - biotech and pharmacyPyrrhocoris apterus as an insect model

Pyrrhocoris apterus as an insect model

Date: 16.11.2015 

Insect are the most prolific and abundant group of organisms, including many pest species with economic importance. Surprisingly, Drosophila melanogaster, the excellent genetic model is not a typical insect representative. Therefore, new models are needed to fully understand biology, physiology and development characteristic to most insect species.

The linden bug, Pyrrhocoris apterus, served for research in insect neuroendocrinology and physiology during last five decades. Our current effort is to optimize techniques and resources including reverse genetic tools, transcriptomic and genomic database, organ culturing and behavioral assays. Several research topics are studied using this new model. 

(i) Diapause and its regulation, particularly seasonal switch depending on day-length measurement called photoperiodic clock is important for insect fitness and survival in temperate regions. Our goal is identifying genetic architecture of photoperiodic clock including pathway going from light/temperature reception through photoperiodic clock to output which regulates activity of corpus allatum and physiology of the entire organism. To achieve that we combine techniques ranging from organ cultures and RNAi gene silencing to immuno-chemistry (see picture bellow) and behavioral assays. Recently we have described plasticity in Juvenile Hormone reception, where one universal receptor protein (MET) interacts with various partners in tissue specific manner (Smykal et al, 2014). One of responses requires interaction of MET with circadian proteins and output relies on novel, non-cyclical feedback between Par domain protein 1 and Cryptochrome (Bajgar et al., 2013a; Bajgar et al., 2013b).

(ii) Neurohormones are involved in regulating all aspect in life of insects including development, metamorphosis, reproduction, behavior and response to stress factors. Neurohormones and their receptors are promising targets for controlling pest species. Our goal is to characterize role of poorly characterized or even new neuropeptides, which is, in long term, necessary prerequisite for successful design of new selective insecticides.

Author: Mgr. David Doležel PhD.


We acknowledge the use of research infrastructure that has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 316304.

This issue is processed eg. in:

Doležel D. (2015) Photoperiodic time measurement in insects. Current Opinion in Insect Science: accepted. DOI: 10.1016/j.cois.2014.12.002

Smýkal V., Bajgar A., Provazník J., Fexová S., Buřičová M., Takaki K., Hodková M., Jindra M., Doležel D. (2014) Juvenile hormone signaling during reproduction and development of the linden bug, Pyrrhocoris apterus. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 45: 69-76.

Bajgar A., Jindra M., Doležel D. (2013) Autonomous regulation of the insect gut by circadian genes acting downstream of juvenile hormone signaling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110: 4416-21.

Bajgar A., Doležel D., Hodková M. (2013) Endocrine regulation of non-circadian behavior of circadian genes in insect gut. Journal of Insect Physiology 59: 881-886.




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