Researchers sequence genome of tobacco hornworm

From Kansas State University:

IMAGE: This photo shows Manduca sexta eggs, larva, pupa and adult moth. A Kansas State University-led research team has sequenced the Manduca sexta genome. view more

Credit: Lisa Brummett, Kansas State University

MANHATTAN, KANSAS — A Kansas State University-led international team has sequenced the genome of the tobacco hornworm – a caterpillar species used in many research laboratories for studies of insect biology.

Michael Kanost, Kansas State University distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, led the team of 114 researchers from 50 institutions and 11 countries. Gary Blissard of the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University is the co-senior author.

The researchers have published their work “Multifaceted biological insights from a draft genome sequence of the tobacco hornworm moth, Manduca sexta” in the journal Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The scientists have made the genome sequence available to the public through the National Agricultural Library.

“This project represents years of collaborative research across the world,” said Kanost, who studies insect immune systems. “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.”

The tobacco hornworm, or Manduca sexta, develops into the Carolina sphinx moth. The name Manduca comes from the Latin word for glutton because these caterpillars eat so much. Manduca sexta occurs naturally in North, Central and South America and is a known pest to gardeners: It eats the leaves of tomato plants and also can be found on pepper, eggplant and potato plants. Crops and weeds from this plant family, which includes tobacco, produce chemicals such as nicotine that deter feeding by most insects, but not Manduca sexta, which makes its physiology especially interesting to scientists.

The sequenced genome can lead to improved molecular biology, physiology …

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