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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Sequence Pest Beetle Genome

March 28, 2008

An international research consortium has reported the genome sequence of the red flour beetle Tribolium castaneum, the first for an insect pest. Tribolium is a notorious invader of stored grains and grain products. The genome consists of approximately 200 million DNA bases that code for about 16,000 proteins, one third of which represents repetitive sequences. The study may have a big impact on agriculture as development in Tribolium  is more representative of other insects than is Drosophila (the first insect with its genome sequence).

With the available genome sequence, the scientists enumerated numerous possible insecticide targets. These include:

  • Cytochrome P450 proteins involved in metabolic detoxification of plant defense chemicals
  • C1 cysteine peptidase genes associated with a protein-degrading complex in the larval gut
  • Neurohormones and G-protein-coupled receptors that are involved in control of insect development, reproduction, and other physiological processes

The full paper published by Nature is available at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/nature06784.pdf