BackgroundPlant viruses maintain intricate interactions with their vector and non-vector insects and can impact the fitness of insects. However, the details of their molecular and cellular mechanisms have not been studied well. We compared the transcriptome-level responses in vector and non-vector aphids (Schizaphis graminum and Rhopalosiphum padi, respectively) after feeding on wheat plants with viral infections (Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV) and Wheat dwarf virus (WDV), respectively). We conducted differentially expressed gene (DEG) annotation analyses and observed DEGs related to immune pathway, growth, development, and reproduction. And we conducted cloning and bioinformatic analyses of the key DEG involved in immune.ResultsFor all differentially expressed gene analyses, the numbers of DEGs related to immune, growth, development, reproduction and cuticle were higher in vector aphids than in non-vector aphids. STAT5B (signal transducer and activator of transcription 5B), which is involved in the JAK-STAT pathway, was upregulated in R. padi exposed to WDV. The cloning and bioinformatic results indicated that the RpSTAT5B sequence contains a 2082 bp ORF encoding 693 amino acids. The protein molecular weight is 79.1 kD and pI is 8.13. Analysis indicated that RpSTAT5B is a non-transmembrane protein and a non-secreted protein. Homology and evolutionary analysis indicated that RpSTAT5B was closely related to R. maidis.ConclusionsUnigene expression analysis showed that the total number of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the vector aphids was higher than that in the non-vector aphids. Functional enrichment analysis showed that the DEGs related to immunity, growth and reproduction in vector aphids were higher than those in non-vector aphids, and the differentially expressed genes related to immune were up-regulated. This study provides a basis for the evaluation of the response mechanisms of vector/non-vector insects to plant viruses.