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Crop Biotech Update

Colorado Potato Beetle Genome Gives Insights into the Pest's Adaptability

February 7, 2018

An international group of scientists led by entomologist Sean Schoville from the University of Wisconsin–Madison have sequenced the genome of the Colorado potato beetle to understand its surprising adaptability to new environments and insecticides.

The scientists found a diverse and large array of genes used for digesting plant proteins, helping the beetle thrive on its hosts. The beetle also had an expanded number of genes for sensing bitter tastes, likely because of their preference for bitter nightshade family of plants, of which potatoes are a member.

The researchers were surprised to find that the Colorado potato beetle's genome looked much like those of its less-hardy cousins. The team did not find new resistance-related genes to explain the insect's tenaciousness. Another 100 genomes of the Colorado potato beetle and its close relatives are being sequenced to continue investigating the hardiness and adaptability that have captured so many people's attention for the past 150 years.

For more details, read the University of Wisconsin–Madison News.