Differential display reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (DDRT-PCR) in combination with semi-quantitative RT-PCR was used to compare differences in gene expression between the solitary and gregarious phase of Schistocerca gregaria. Twenty-six primer combinations were used, which produced 8 differential bands. Two out of the 8 differentials, one typical for the solitary and one for the gregarious phase, were further analyzed by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The expression level of the solitary phase specific gene (SSG) was 2 times higher in solitary animals as compared to gregarious ones, while the gregarious specific gene (GSG) gave a 4-fold higher expression level in gregarious animals than in solitaries. Sequence analysis demonstrated that SSG does not belong to a known gene family, while the GSG belongs to the SPARC protein family. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.