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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Sequence Complete Fruit Fly Genome

October 5, 2016

The complete genome of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata has been sequenced by an international team of scientists from 25 research organizations around the world led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in Germany.

The Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) attacks more than 260 fruit, vegetable, and nut crops worldwide, causing billions of dollars annually in direct damage, export sanctions, lost markets, and other costs. The 479Mb medfly genome is sequenced from adult flies inbred for 20 generations. The researchers found specific genes tied to the pest's ability to reproduce, withstand pathogens, find host plants, and break down environmental toxins.

The researchers plan on 'mining' the medfly's genome for information to improve the effectiveness of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), an approach used worldwide that involves mass-rearing medflies in the lab and sterilizing the males for release into the wild to mate, resulting in eggs that won't hatch.

For more details, read the research news at the USDA Agricultural Research Service website.