Unlocking genome of world's worst insect pest

Jun 18, 2008

The Australian Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator the Hon Kim Carr, said – at the BIO 2008 International Convention in San Diego, California – that the team was expected to sequence the moth's genome in about four months.

"This will allow the collaborating scientists and a worldwide consortium of specialists to work on new ways of controlling this pest," Senator Carr said.

According to CSIRO's Group Executive for Agribusiness, Dr Joanne Daly, these include: the molecular basis of resistance to chemical and Bt insecticides and population genetics related to the refuge strategies in place to help prevent Helicoverpa from developing resistance to Bt transgenic cottons.

"This moth is resistant to nearly every class of chemical pesticide and threatens the long-term viability of transgenic crops which are reliant on the biological pesticide, Bt," Dr Daly said.

"The sequencing of the genome will greatly facilitate this research by improving the power, cost effectiveness and insights from the genetic work on this species and its American cousin H. zea," University of Melbourne Associate Professor Philip Batterham said.

Senator Carr said that finding the moth's Achilles heel was critically important to agriculture worldwide.

"The moth causes $225 million of damage a year in Australia – $5 billion globally – to crops such as cotton, legumes and vegetables," he said.

"Our scientists are already world leaders in research on the genetics and ecology of Helicoverpa and its close relatives.

"This project – led by CSIRO Entomology's Dr John Oakeshott and Associate Professor Batterham – will build on Australia's role. Working together with our partners at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and France's National Institute for Agricultural Research, the project will help establish us as leaders in organising major insect genome projects."

The project is another example of what can be achieved through collaboration between scientists and their institutions both in Australia and overseas, he said.

Source: CSIRO Australia

Explore further: How do our muscles work? Scientists reveal important new insights into muscle protein

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bear cub found dead in Spanish Pyrenees

5 hours ago

A brown bear cub that was part of an effort to reintroduce the species to the Pyrenees mountains has been found dead on the Spanish side of the mountain range, local officials said Monday.

Boy moms more social in chimpanzees

5 hours ago

Nearly four decades of observations of Tanzanian chimpanzees has revealed that the mothers of sons are about 25 percent more social than the mothers of daughters. Boy moms were found to spend about two hours ...

Recommended for you

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

8 hours ago

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.