BackgroundThe production of foam nests is one of the strategies that has evolved to allow some anuran species to protect their eggs and larvae. Despite considerable knowledge of the biochemical components of and construction behavior leading to anuran foam nests, little is known about the molecular basis of foam nest construction. Rhacophorus omeimontis presents an arboreal foam-nesting strategy during the breeding season. To better understand the molecular mechanism of foam nest production, transcriptome sequencing was performed using the oviduct of female R. omeimontis during the period when foam nest production began and the period when foam nest production was finished.ResultsThe transcriptomes of six oviduct samples of R. omeimontis were obtained using Illumina sequencing. A total of 84,917 unigenes were obtained, and 433 genes (270 upregulated and 163 downregulated) were differentially expressed between the two periods. These differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were mainly enriched in extracellular space and extracellular region based on Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis and in the pathways of two-component system, cell adhesion molecules, steroid hormone biosynthesis and neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction based on Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment analysis. Specifically, genes encoding lectins, surfactant proteins and immunity components were highly expressed when the foam nest construction began, indicating that the constituents of foam nests in R. omeimontis were likely a mixture of surfactant, lectins and immune defense proteins. During the period when foam nest production was finished, genes related to lipid metabolism, steroid hormone and immune defense were highly expressed, indicating their important roles in regulating the process of foam nesting.ConclusionsOur study provides a rich list of potential genes involved in the production of foam nests in R. omeimontis. These results provide insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying the process of foam nest construction and will facilitate further studies of R. omeimontis.