Scientists Sequence The Genome Of Tobacco Hornworm

Posted: Aug 16 2016, 12:39am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 16 2016, 12:45am CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Sequence the Genome of Tobacco Hornworm
Credit: Dave Pape

Tobaccon hornworm is a caterpillar species which served as an important model insect over the decades.

Scientists have sequenced a number of wily and weird genomes of different organisms over the years and the purpose of these genome analysis is to unravel the genetic mysteries behind the unique structures and their mechanisms. 

Now, an international team of researchers has successfully sequenced the genome of a tobacco hornworm – a very large kind of caterpillar with distinctive horn-like tail.

The sequencing of tobacco hornworm which was done by 114 researchers from 50 institutions and 11 countries is a significant achievement and will provide valuable data to understand the genetic makeup of a main insect species.

“The completion of this project marks a major milestone in the study of insect biochemistry and molecular biology, as Manduca sexta is an important model insect: one that has been studied for its physiology and biochemistry for many decades.” Professor Gary Blissard from Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University said.

The tobacco hornworm, also known as Carolina sphinx moth is an insect commonly found in North, Central and South America and can grow up to 4 inches in length. Due to its large size, easily accessible nervous system and easy growth, the insect is often used in research laboratories for conducting scientific experiments and for studying insect biology. 

Tobacco hornworm larvae typically grow and develop on host planets like tomato, potato, pepper or eggplant. So, its genome analysis can also lead to more improved methods for preventing insect infestation. 

The collaborative project to analyze the tobacco hornworm genome was started in 2009. The sequencing of broad range of tissue samples was performed in many centers and the result were added into a common computer system so everyone involved in the research could be aware of the details. 

“What makes the project unique is that so many different groups did in depth studies of so many gene families," said Blissard "And this is an exceptionally rich resource that will be useful not only to scientists studying insects, but also to scientists studying other organisms and their pathogens and diseases."



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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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