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Researchers at LSTM part of the international team to sequence the tsetse genome
Date:4/25/2014

Researchers from LSTM are among those who have sequenced the genome of a species of tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans). The outcomes of this research will be invaluable to understanding more about the tsetse and other insect vector biology, knowledge which can be applied to improving the current vector control methods and may lead to more effective and affordable control strategies.

A paper summarising some of the findings will be published in the journal Science today, with more specific and in depth analyses of various aspects of tsetse biology being published as a collection of 10 papers within the PLOS family of journals.

The tsetse fly is the vector for African trypanosomiasis, a potentially fatal disease in people (sleeping sickness) and livestock (Nagana), throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 70 million people at risk of infection. Unlike other disease vectors, such as mosquitoes and sandflies, both sexes of the tsetse fly feed exclusively on vertebrate blood, meaning that all tsetse are capable of spreading the disease. To deal with the nourishment issues arising from feeding exclusively on blood the tsetse has formed complex relationships with three different symbiotic bacteria. It is also unusual among insects as it gives birth to live young having evolved to lactate in order to provide nourishment to intrauterine offspring.

The work was carried out over a 10 year period following the formation of the International Glossina Genome Initiative in 2003. Around 146 scientists have contributed to the work, including members of the departments of Vector Biology, Parasitology and Clinical Sciences within LSTM, along with colleagues from around the world, with at least half of the contributors being from African institutions.

LSTM's Professor Mike Lehane was a member of the project leadership team and describes the significance of the work: "Human infections with African trypanosomes can be fatal if
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Contact: Clare Bebb
c.bebb@liv.ac.uk
44-015-170-53135
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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