Divergent amplifications of CYP9A cytochrome P450 genes provide two noctuid pests with differential protection against xenobiotics

Yu Shi, Qingqing Liu, Wenjie Lu, Jing Yuan, Yihua Yang, John Oakeshott, Yidong Wu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Here, we provide mechanistic support for the involvement of the CYP9A subfamily of cytochrome P450 monooxygenases in the detoxification of host plant defense compounds and chemical insecticides in Spodoptera exigua and Spodoptera frugiperda. Our comparative genomics shows that a large cluster of CYP9A genes occurs in the two species but with significant differences in its contents, including several species-specific duplicates and substantial sequence divergence, both between orthologs and between duplicates. Bioassays of CRISPR-Cas9 knockouts of the clusters show that, collectively, the CYP9As can detoxify two furanocoumarin plant defense compounds (imperatorin and xanthotoxin) and insecticides representing three different chemotypes (pyrethroids, avermectins, and oxadiazines). However, in vitro metabolic assays of heterologously expressed products of individual genes show several differences between the species in the particular CYP9As with activities against these compounds. We also find that the clusters show tight genetic linkage with high levels of pyrethroid resistance in field strains of the two species. We propose that their divergent amplifications of the CYP9A subfamily have not only contributed to the development of the broad host ranges of these species over long evolutionary timeframes but also supplied them with diverse genetic options for evolving resistance to chemical insecticides in the very recent past.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2308685120
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number37
Early online date5 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2023. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • cytochrome P450
  • host adaptation
  • insecticide resistance
  • spodopteran pests
  • xenobiotic detoxification


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