Biotech Updates

International Consortium Sequence Mosquito Sex Chromosome

April 6, 2016

A team of researchers from the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech, together with an international consortium, has sequenced the Y chromosome — the genetic driver of sex-determination and male fertility — in a family of malaria spreading mosquitoes.

Zhijian Jake Tu, professor of biochemistry and co-author of the study said, "Thirteen years after the publication of a draft genome of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, we've finally characterized its Y chromosome. This is one of the last pieces of the puzzle. Having the Y will help us figure out the genetic basis of male biology in future studies."

The researchers said that the Y chromosome had not been previously characterized because it mostly consists of repetitive DNA sequences that stump the algorithms used by computers to assemble the entire genetic make-up of mosquito. To get around this, they used a new long single-molecule sequencing technology, a new bioinformatics algorithm specifically designed to identify Y sequences, and physical mapping of DNA directly to the Y chromosome. The combined efforts of the international research team resulted in the most extensive characterization of Y chromosome to date, in additional malaria vectors as well. The new information about the Y chromosome will facilitate efforts to reduce female mosquitoes or create sterile males, strategies which are of interest to research teams across the world.

For more details, read the news release from the Virginia Tech website.