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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Bee Research Laboratory » Research » Research Project #440533

Research Project: High-Quality Genome Sequencing and Assembly to Support the Asian Giant Hornet (AGH) Eradication Response

Location: Bee Research Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-21000-291-046-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2020
End Date: Sep 30, 2021

The Asian giant hornet (AGH; Vespa mandarinia) is the world’s largest hornet. This species is native to Asia and its presence of AGH in the U.S. poses a significant risk to honey bees, one of the most important pollinators of more than 100 crops grown in the U.S., including many specialty crops. AGH also poses a public health risk as they will vigorously defend their nests and/or the beehives that they have occupied for food. Eradication of this species is the prime goal of the USDA, and molecular research included in this project is necessary to achieve this goal.

The full Asian giant hornet (AGH) genome was sequenced for the first time by the Ag100Pest Initiative in 2020. The Ag100Pest team will continue with PacBio sequencing of AGH specimens from different regions where AGH populations have, at one time, been considered different subspecies. Samples will be provided to USDA-ARS’s Ag100Pest team for DNA isolation and preparation for sequencing. Long-read PacBio HiFi sequencing will be performed on a Sequel II instrument and these data will be assembled into a contig assembly. Subsequently, HiC data will be used to scaffold the assembly to chromosome-level. The final assemblies and sequencing data will be deposited into NCBI. Obtaining high-quality genome assemblies for potential AGH subspecies will be essential as a reference on which to align population-level Illumina and other sequence data, producing markers for these populations, and serving as a general reference for other research questions.