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Head and body lice appear to be the same species, genetic study finds
Date:4/9/2012

n terms of their protein-coding genes."

The researchers also exposed the lice to a variety of environmental conditions to capture the greatest variety of gene activity.

"My colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, led by veterinary and animal sciences professor John Clark, collected lice at every developmental stage, exposed them to every pesticide they could get their hands on, multiple bacterial challenges, several physical challenges cold, heat to get the lice to express as many genes as possible," Pittendrigh said. Very few differences were detected in the number or sequences of genes they expressed.

"The differences in their sequences were so minor that if we didn't know they were separate groups, we would have considered them the same species," he said.

"As body lice transmit diseases and head lice don't, this system provides a unique opportunity to understand subtle changes that allow body lice to transmit human diseases," said graduate student Brett Olds, who conducted the genetic analysis.


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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