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Genome sequencing of 3 parasitoid wasp species
Date:2/17/2010

An international consortium of scientists, including Universitat Autnoma de Barcelona (UAB) researcher Deodoro Oliveira, have sequenced the genome of three species of parasitoid wasps of the genus Nasonia. The research offers new basic information on the genetic mechanisms of evolution. It is also of great importance for the control of agricultural pests and of insect-borne diseases, since parasitoid wasps bite and lay eggs on much larger insects, many of which are the ones to later cause plagues or spread infectious diseases. The research could pave the way for new methods of controlling these plagues and preventing the propagation of diseases.

Parasitoid wasps are four times smaller than the common fruit fly. They lay eggs within other insects and kill their host before leaving. Although their size is insignificant, their importance in the control of populations of agricultural pests is crucial. Thanks to these insects billions of euros worth of crops are saved each year. Not only that, but the genus Nasonia is very useful for research carried out in genetics, given that the males evolve from non-fertilised eggs and only have one set of chromosomes, and it is therefore immediately possible to detect the effects of chromosomes which have undergone mutations. In experiments in which mutations take place, the altered genes are easily detected because there is no copy of the gene which could mask the effects.

The research, recently published in the journal Science, shows the full genome sequencing of the species Nasonia vitripennis, Nasonia giraulti and Nasonia longicornis. It also points out key discoveries made with these sequencings, such as the identification of the genes responsible for the venom produced by wasps. Scientists have identified 79 different proteins in this venom, 23 of which had never been observed before. This information could be very useful in the development of new drugs, since
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Contact: Deodoro Oliveira
Deodoro.Oliveira@uab.cat
34-935-813-787
Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Source:Eurekalert

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