It's been called "the Manhattan Project of Entomology," an undertaking that has the potential to revolutionize the way we think about insects.
The i5k Initiative, also known as the 5,000 Insect Genome Project, was recently launched with a letter to Science (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6023/1386.citation) from ten signers known as the i5K Ad Hoc Launch Group. Now the latest issue of American Entomologist features an interview (http://entsoc.org/PDF/2011/AE-15k.pdf) with four of the signers about the project's origins, purpose, and goals.
The Initiative aims to sequence the genomes of 5,000 insects and other arthropods over the next five years in order to "improve our lives by contributing to a better understanding of insect biology and transforming our ability to manage arthropods that threaten our health, food supply, and economic security."
"We hope that generating this data will lead to better models for insecticide resistance, better models for developing new pesticides, better models for understanding transmission of disease, or for control of agricultural pests," said Daniel Lawson, a coordinator at the European Bioinformatics Institute. "Moving into the genetics era revolutionizes what you can do, what you can try to assay in your species, what you can infer from your experiments."
According to Gene E. Robinson, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "This will provide information that breeders would need to look for ways of dealing with insect resistance to pesticides. It would also provide geneticists with information on what might be vulnerable points in an insect's makeup, which could be used for novel control strategies."
As the costs of genomic sequencing continue to fall due to technological improvements, it will soon become feasible
|Contact: Richard Levine|
Entomological Society of America