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Project would run genomes for 5,000 bugs

June 16, 2011 at 5:57 PM   |   Comments

LANHAM, Md., June 16 (UPI) -- Scientists from around the world plan to sequence genomes of 5,000 insects and arthropods during the next five years, the Entomological Society of America said.

The goal of the 5,000 Insect Genome Project is to improve lives through a better understanding of insect biology and how to control bugs that threaten health, food and economic security, the entomological society said Wednesday in a release.

"We hope that generating this data will lead to better models for insecticide resistance, better models for developing new pesticides, better models for understanding transmission of disease, or for control of agricultural pests," said Daniel Lawson, a coordinator at the European Bioinformatics Institute. "Moving into the genetics era revolutionizes what you can do, what you can try to assay in your species, what you can infer from your experiments."

Gene Robinson, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said the project will provide information breeders would need to look for ways of dealing insect that are resistant to pesticides.

The project also would provide geneticists with "information on what might be vulnerable points in an insect's makeup, which could be used for novel control strategies," Robinson said.

Because the cost of genomic sequencing is falling because of technological improvements, it soon will be feasible to inexpensively sequence the genomes of 5,000 insects of medical and agricultural importance, then to mine the genomes for data that could result in insect control, and management products and techniques, the entomological organization said.

"We want this to be a broad-based, inclusive effort," Robinson said. "We want all people to be involved, we want all insects of agricultural importance, all insects of medical importance, and so forth."

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