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De novo transcriptome sequencing of the northern fowl mite, Ornithonyssus sylviarum, shed light on parasitiform poultry mites evolution and its chemoreceptor repertoires


The northern fowl mite (NFM), Ornithonyssus sylviarum, and the poultry red mite (PRM), Dermanyssus gallinae, are the most serious pests of poultry, both of which have an expanding global prevalence. Research on NFM has been constrained by a lack of genomic and transcriptomic data. Here, we report and analyze the first global transcriptome data across all mite live stages and sexes. A total of 28,999 unigenes were assembled, of which 19,750 (68.10%) were annotated using seven functional databases. The biological function of these unigenes was classified using the GO, KOG, and KEGG databases. To gain insight into the chemosensory receptor-based system of parasitiform mites, we furthermore assessed the gene repertoire of gustatory receptors (GRs) and ionotropic receptors (IRs), both of which encode putative ligand-gated ion channel proteins. While these receptors are well characterized in insect model species, our understanding of chemosensory detection in mites and ticks is in its infancy. To address this paucity of data, we identified 9 IR/iGluRs and 2 GRs genes by analyzing transcriptome data in the NFM, while 9 GRs and 41 IR/iGluRs genes were annotated in the PRM genome. Taken together, the transcriptomic and genomic annotation of these two species provide a valuable reference for studies of parasitiform mites and also help to understand how chemosensory gene family expansion/contraction events may have been reshaped by an obligate parasitic lifestyle compared with their free-living closest relatives. Future studies should include additional species to validate this observation and functional characterization of the identified proteins as a step forward in identifying tools for controlling these poultry pests.

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Northern fowl mite


Poultry red mite




α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate


Online Resource for Community Annotation of Eukaryotes


High-throughput sequencing


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We would like to thank Yu Tang, Dr. Jianguo Zhao, and Dr. Chenghong Liao for their assistance.


This work was supported by Hainan Provincial Major R & D Program (ZDKJ2021035).

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Authors and Affiliations



B.B. and Q.H. conceived and designed the study. B.B. and H.C. wrote the first draft and performed the experiments. J.L.-F., J.V., R.I., and Q.H. commented on study design, methodology, and substantially revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Qian Han.

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All procedures to gather samples from animals were approved by Hainan University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (HNUAUCC-2019-0000A).

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Bhowmick, B., Chen, H., Lozano-Fernandez, J. et al. De novo transcriptome sequencing of the northern fowl mite, Ornithonyssus sylviarum, shed light on parasitiform poultry mites evolution and its chemoreceptor repertoires. Parasitol Res 121, 521–535 (2022).

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  • Chemosensory receptors
  • De novo assembly
  • Ectoparasites
  • Genomics
  • Phylogeny
  • Parasitiformes