The Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics released a statement announcing a new achievement in the science world: researchers have managed to sequence the genome of a caterpillar. This means that they have more information on it, and the little creature that made it all happen was the tobacco hornworm.
The tobacco hornworm is the first stage of evolution of the tobacco moth. It is scientifically known as Manduca sexta, and it eats large quantities of leaves. This behavior makes it pass as a pest for farmers and gardeners all around America, as it feeds on the leaves of eggplants, peppers, and potatoes. This caterpillar has a short lifespan, and it can be found both outdoors and in laboratories, as many scientists use them for their studies.
The Kansas State University initiated this new research, and the lead professor here, Michael Kanost, relied on the help of many other great scientists in the world. The team had 114 members, coming from 11 different countries. Lead author, Michael Kanost is pleased with the outcome, as their efforts resulted in a useful study:
“This project represents years of collaborative research across the world. We wanted to provide these valuable data to scientists, and our hope is that this sequenced genome will stimulate new research in molecular studies of insects.” (Michael Kanost, Kansas State University)
The results of the study can be used in order to produce effective treatment against the pest, thus saving people’s crops. Now the scientists are interested in the immune system of the caterpillar, which is quite similar to the one in the human body, according to them. Michael Kanost further declared on the issue:
“We’re continuing to study the immune system and the proteins that make the exoskeleton. (…)Now it is easier to identify the proteins using the gene sequences, and we can use the gene sequences to make insect proteins in bacteria for biochemical studies.”
This study is highly important for the scientific community, and this particular type of caterpillar is ideal for analyses and tests. It allows collecting tissue easily, as it is a quite large species, which can reach even 10 cm long. It is a good subject for other experiments as well as researchers can also work quite easy with its nervous system.
The international researchers’ team published the collective article in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Image courtesy of: Wikipedia