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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Stoneville, Mississippi » Genomics and Bioinformatics Research » Research » Research Project #442679

Research Project: Scaffolding on Success: Additional Genomic Sequencing to Elevate Desert Locust Research

Location: Genomics and Bioinformatics Research

Project Number: 6066-21310-005-060-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Jul 1, 2022
End Date: Sep 30, 2022

1: Sequence the genome of one additional locust to enhance our understanding of desert locust through comparative genomics. 2: Collect samples of desert locust across its range to support future population-level research.

There are ~9 locust species recognized as causing significant crop damage, endangering food security, in Africa. Climate change is affecting the frequency and geographical range of their outbreaks. By sequencing additional locust species we will be able to compare genomic architecture and sequence differences across species to better understand their biological similarities and differences. This will help us narrow potential candidates for the design of novel molecular-based management tools specific to locusts to respond to outbreaks. These newer methods will help us meet the ultimate goal of decreasing the use of broad-range chemical insecticides that are of concern to human and environmental health. Collection of desert locusts over time across its African and Asian geographic range will allow us to understand population-level differences in the species. This knowledge will allow us to improve estimates its capacity to adapt and expand its range based on the level of variation already present in the population. These data will also help answer questions about the evolutionary impacts of swarms on the maintenance of diversity in the species across time and geography, thus improving our ability to predict the impacts of various control strategies. ARS has successfully produced a high quality genome of desert locust and other locust species. The same techniques will be used to generate one from a new sample that will allow for important comparisons. ARS’s high performance computers (SCINet) will be utilized for genomic comparisons. Working with collaborators from many countries and institutions we will source desert locust samples from a wide geographic range. Because locusts typically live in remote areas, especially those populations not currently swarming, which would be particularly valuable to study, it is necessary to provide our collaborators with some supplies for sample collection and proper preservation. These samples will be stored for proposed future population-level sequencing efforts.