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Genome sequences for wasps will aid pest and disease control, provide new model organism

Date:
January 14, 2010
Source:
San Francisco State University
Summary:
Scientists have mapped the genomes for three kinds of parasitic wasps, providing a new genetic model system based on the Nasonia genus. The availability of these genome sequences will aid the analysis of complex genetic traits, such as skin color, as well as complex human diseases. The findings may advance our understanding of how to use these wasps as natural agents against agricultural pests and disease-carrying insects.

This female Nasonia wasp is stinging a fly pupal host and laying eggs within it. The offspring will emerge two weeks later and will subsequently hatch and kill the host creature.
Credit: Photo by Peter Koomen and Mathijs Zwier courtesy of Leo Beukeboom (Evolutionary Genetics, University of Groningen, The Netherlands)

Scientists have mapped the genomes for three kinds of parasitic wasps, providing a new genetic model system based on the Nasonia genus. The availability of these genome sequences will aid the analysis of complex genetic traits, such as skin color, as well as complex human diseases.

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Published in the Jan. 15 issue of Science, the findings may help advance our understanding of how to use these wasps as natural agents against agricultural pests and disease-carrying insects.

"These genome sequences will be a major tool for agricultural pest control," said Chris Smith, assistant professor of biology at San Francisco State University and one of the study's authors. "Many people may not realize how dependent humans are on these tiny wasps which protect our food crops and save the U.S. billions of dollars each year by reducing crop loss."

An international consortium of scientists mapped the complete DNA sequences for three species in the Nasonia genus, a group of tiny parasitic wasps that are a quarter of the size of a fruit fly. The wasps lay their eggs on other insects, which then hatch and kill the host creature. Wasps in the Nasonia genus are particularly suited to genetic research because the males develop from unfertilized eggs. Since they only have one copy of each gene, scientists can immediately see the effects of mutant genes, while in most species the second copy of the gene can hide problems in a mutant gene.

The research was led by Professor John Werren from the University of Rochester. The research team included Chris Smith, assistant professor of biology at San Francisco State University and Henry Hunter and Jay Kim, both graduate students at San Francisco State University. See the paper for a complete author list.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by San Francisco State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. The Nasonia Genome Working Group. Functional and Evolutionary Insights from the Genomes of Three Parasitoid Nasonia Species. Science, 2010: 327 (5963): 343-348 DOI: 10.1126/science.1178028

Cite This Page:

San Francisco State University. "Genome sequences for wasps will aid pest and disease control, provide new model organism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114143012.htm>.
San Francisco State University. (2010, January 14). Genome sequences for wasps will aid pest and disease control, provide new model organism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114143012.htm
San Francisco State University. "Genome sequences for wasps will aid pest and disease control, provide new model organism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114143012.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

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