Acta Entomologica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 63 ›› Issue (10): 1268-1275.doi: 10.16380/j.kcxb.2020.10.012

• REVIEW ARTICLES • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research progress in pigmentation and the formation mechanisms of black stripes and spots on the body in insects

GAO Yun#, LIANG Yan-Ting#, LIU Yi-Qin, XU Yu-Song, WANG Hua-Bing   

  1. (College of Animal Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China)
  • Online:2020-10-20 Published:2020-11-06

Abstract:  Insects are constantly attacked by predators and exhibit adaptive traits for defense against predators during their growth and development. One of the defense strategies is an adaptive stripe pattern. The various coloration patterns of insects represent warning signals or mimic host plants to escape detection by predators and hasten avoidance learning. Furthermore, insect pigmentation patterns play important roles in such processes as mate preference, geographical adaptation, thermoregulation, and ultraviolet resistance. Thus, multifarious pigmentation patterns are highly researched. Lepidopteran insects include multiple species that are widely distributed. The adaptive stripe pattern is often observed in lepidopteran insects; thus, its biological roles are more evident than those in other insects. Recent research suggests that pigmentary color and schemochrome are the main determinants of insect color patterns, and ommochromes, melanin, and peridines significantly influence visual color patterns. In addition, hosts, environmental factors, and hormones are also thought to dramatically affect the diversity of color patterns in insects. In recent years, many genes that are crucial to pigmentation have been identified through positional cloning strategies, classical linkage maps, RNA interference, and high-throughput sequencing technologies combined with genome editing techniques. Recent studies suggest that TH, DDC, yellow, laccase2, ebony, AA-NAT, tan, and GTPCHI all play key roles in pigment synthesis. Furthermore, the pleiotropic genes spz3, apt-like, and wnt1 as well as the 20E-inducible transcription factors E75A and spalt target the melanin synthesis pathway, affecting the synthesis and deposition of melanin. In this article, we reviewed the progress in the research of the formation and influencing factors of the diversity of insect body color and markings, the type and material basis of insect coloration, and the regulation of black spots and markings on insects, hoping to provide a theoretical basis for the utilization of pigmentation-related genes and new insights for pest control.

Key words: Lepidoptera, body color, pigmentation pattern, pigment synthesis, gene editing; RNAi