The Nature study deciphering the genome of Tetranychus urticae, the two-spotted spider mite (which has two red spots), was conducted by an international research team of 55 scientists from North America, Europe and South America.
Besides Clark, the other primary authors are biologists Yves Van de Peer of Ghent University and the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology in Belgium; Miodrag Grbic of the University of Western Ontario, Canada; Thomas Van Leeuwen of Ghent University; and Rene Feyereisen of the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis in France.
Genetic Blueprint of the Two-Spotted Spider Mite
Decoding the spider mite's genome required dozens of scientists with expertise in various gene families. Clark mainly studied which genes are "expressed" or activated and thus make messenger RNA, or mRNA, which in turn is used to make proteins.
The study found that the two-spotted spider mite has 18,414 genes. Clark and University of Utah graduate student Edward J. Osborne found that 15,397 genes are "expressed" or activated to make proteins.
The spider mite genome contains about 90 megabases that's 90 million "base pairs" of DNA letters (A,C, G and T) which is the smallest genome yet sequenced for any arthropod, which are invertebrate or spineless animals with external skeletons or exoskeletons, segmented bodies, and appendages with joints.
"Many of the other genomes are enormous," some close to 3 billion bases, or about the size of the human genome, and some up to 7.1 billion bases, Clark says.
Arthropods include hexapods (insects and insect-like animals), crustaceans (lobsters, crabs, shrimp, barnacles), myriapods (millipedes, centipedes) and chelicerates (spiders, s
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University of Utah