Effect of long-term cold storage on trehalose metabolism of pre-wintering Harmonia axyridis adults and changes in morphological diversity before and after wintering.PLoS One. 2020; 15(3):e0230435.Plos
Harmonia axyridis is a major bio-control agent of pests in agriculture and forest ecosystems. It is also a globally important invasive insect species. To test whether dark elytra colour is associated with greater cold hardiness, we compared the survival rate of prolonged cold exposure in both yellow and black colour morphs of female and male H. axyridis. We determined the trehalose and glycogen content, trehalase activity, and the dynamics of genes associated with the trehalose metabolic pathway. Yellow forms predominated before winter began, however black forms increased from 11.15 to 30.46% after overwintering. There was no significant difference in trehalose content between the females and males during overwintering. Glycogen content in over-wintering yellow females and black males increased significantly, while it decreased in black females. Soluble trehalase activity increased significantly in all the insects except black females. Membrane-bound trehalase activity increased in black males, and decreased in black females. Trehalose and glycogen content and trehalase activity were regulated by differential expression of TRE and TPS genes. Female beetles weighed more than males and survived in low temperatures for longer periods of time, regardless of elytra colour, suggesting that mass is a stronger predictor of overwintering survival rather than colour morph. Our results provide a guide for comparing cold resistance in insects and a theoretical basis for cold storage of H. axyridis for use as natural enemies of pests in biological control programs.