CENTENNIAL HONORS COLLEGE Western Illinois University Undergraduate Research Day 2015 Poster Presentation Caterpillar Gene Expression in Relation to Plant Defenses Charles Ward Faculty Mentor: Richard Musser Biology The caterpillar Helicoverpa zea, causes tremendous economic crop damage. This caterpillar is a generalist feeder feeding on a wide range of crops. Our study focuses on the genes altered from feeding on different plant sources. We allowed 6th instar H. zea to feed on a wide range of dietary factors and plants such as tomato, corn and soybean. After 24 hours harvested the caterpillars organs such as midgut, fat body, malpighian tubules, and salivary glands were total RNA purified for gene expression measurement with qPCR. Our initial results show that the caterpillar has compensatory up regulation of digestive and detoxification genes.