Scientists to sequence thousands of insect genomes

Mosquito drinking blood (Image: VectorBase) Insect-borne diseases are a leading cause of death in young children under the age of five around the globe

Related Stories

Thousands of insects are being lined up to have their genomes sequenced.

The five-year project will help researchers pinpoint vulnerable regions of insects' genomes, which could be targeted with pesticides.

The project's leaders hope the initiative will make a dent in the $50bn spent globally each year to control diseases transmitted by insects.

The final list of six-legged critters has yet to be finalised.

The project, called the 5000 Insect and Other Arthropod Genome Initiative, comes at a time when the costs of genome sequencing have fallen substantially and it is feasible to cheaply sequence large numbers of animals and plants.

Handfuls of bugs

Among the list of agriculturally important insects and other arthropods - animals with exoskeletons - to be sequenced are handfuls of bugs that act as disease vectors.

By comparing the genomes of these insects with those of their close relatives that don't carry pathogens, researchers hope to pinpoint the genes that make one insect a disease-vector and another not.

What's more, knowing the genes involved will help researchers better predict how insect immune systems will evolve in response to biopesticide control measures, such as Beauveria bassiana, a fungus used to control mosquitoes in malaria-ridden countries in Africa.

It is also hoped that the project will aid the search for suitable compounds for use as pesticides; ones that kill a targeted pest but leave the beneficial pollinating insects that also visit the crop plants unharmed.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Science & Environment stories

RSS

Features

  • Witley Court in Worcestershire Abandoned mansions

    What happened to England's lost stately homes?


  • Tray of beer being carried10 Things

    Beer is less likely to slosh than coffee, and other nuggets


  • Spoon and buckwheatSoul food

    The grain that tells you a lot about Russia's state of mind


  • Woman readingWeekendish

    The best reads you need to catch up on


  • Salim Rashid SuriThe Singing Sailor

    The young Omani who became a prewar fusion music hit


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.