Genome for Nasonia Wasp Now Complete
August 13, 2009
The sequencing of the genome for an
important parasitic wasp called Nasonia has been completed by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists and cooperators. Nasonia is a key experimental organism
that’s been used for genetic research for over half a century.
University of Rochester (New York) genetics professor Jack Werren was the
leader of the overall project, while entomologist
Hunter at the
Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Fla., led the ARS portion
of the work. The scientific team produced genetic libraries and sequenced over
10,000 expressed sequence tags of the genome.
The small Nasonia wasps seek out blow flies, flesh flies, and house
flies, and then lay their eggs in the fly pupae. It’s an effective
biocontrol wasp because the females produce offspring quickly, have large
family sizes and, best of all, are easy to work with in the lab. Commercial
hosts are available, making it easy to rear the wasps.
Currently U.S. biological control programs using parasitoid wasps save
approximately $20 billion annually in crop losses to newly invasive species.
These wasps have been a major benefit to food production for humans by reducing
the quantity of food crops destroyed by pests and reducing the need for
It’s no wonder that Nasonia was the logical first choice for
sequencing a parasitoid genome. Information from the Nasonia genome is
being used to identify important genes in parasitoid biology. There’s
also a broad interest in utilizing the Nasonia genome to identify
genes involved in important biological processes like sense of smell, behavior,
toxicology and enzymatic pathways.
more about the research in the August 2009 issue of Agricultural Research
Details on the Nasonia Genome Project can be found at:
ARS is principal intramural scientific research agency in the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.