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Successful genome sequencing of pea aphid is a breakthrough for ecology and agricultural research
Date:2/23/2010

A special issue of Insect Molecular Biology reports the detailed analyses of specific aspects of the genome of the important plant pest, the Pea Aphid. The analyses are based on the publication of the aphid genome sequence in PLoS Biology and is a major step in enhancing our understanding of insect ecology and evolution with important implications for controlling these significant plant pests.

The sequencing of the Pea Aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, genome is a major milestone for insect scientists. To date all insect genomes that have been sequenced have been holometabolus species, such as flies, bees, ants, butterflies and wasps. The Pea Aphid is a member of a group of insects that are more ancient than flies and bees etc. and are closely related to the wingless insects which are thought to have evolved more directly from the first insects. This unique position of the Pea Aphid within the insect tree of life will provide important keys to understanding insect biology and evolution.

"Aphids are economically very important insects as they contain a host of agricultural and forestry pests as well as some medically important species," said Professor Charles Godfrey from the University of Oxford, in the editorial of the special issue. "The pea aphid is, as the name would suggest, a pest of peas and other legumes though does not cause the major economic damage of related species such as the peach-potato aphid."

The Pea Aphid is of particular interest to ecologists as aphid populations can develop to specialise in different food plants. When a population selects a new plant to colonise the association with the plant leads to balanced gene flow which prevents further divergence and speciation to occur in the aphid population. This process of specialisation means the Pea Aphid has become a model organism for evolutionists studying specialisation and ecological speciation with the sequencing of the genome now allowing new testing of
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Contact: Ben Norman
Lifesciencenews@wiley.com
44-012-437-70375
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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