We can't all be supermodels: the value of comparative transcriptomics to the study of non-model insects

S.J. Oppenheim, R.H. Baker, S. Simon, R. DeSalle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Insects are the most diverse group of organisms on the planet. Variation in gene expression lies at the heart of this biodiversity and recent advances in sequencing technology have spawned a revolution in researchers' ability to survey tissue-specific transcriptional complexity across a wide range of insect taxa. Increasingly, studies are using a comparative approach (across species, sexes and life stages) that examines the transcriptional basis of phenotypic diversity within an evolutionary context. In the present review, we summarize much of this research, focusing in particular on three critical aspects of insect biology: morphological development and plasticity; physiological response to the environment; and sexual dimorphism. A common feature that is emerging from these investigations concerns the dynamic nature of transcriptome evolution as indicated by rapid changes in the overall pattern of gene expression, the differential expression of numerous genes with unknown function, and the incorporation of novel, lineage-specific genes into the transcriptional profile.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-154
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • biased gene-expression
  • chromosome dosage compensation
  • seminal fluid proteins
  • asian tiger mosquito
  • division-of-labor
  • rna-seq
  • anopheles-gambiae
  • x-chromosome
  • honey-bees
  • drosophila-melanogaster


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