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item Brown, Susan
item Denell, Robin
item Beeman, Richard

Submitted to: Genetical Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2003
Publication Date: 12/31/2003
Citation: Brown, S.J., Denell, R.E., Beeman, R.W. 2003. Beetling around the genome. Genetical Research 82: 155-161.

Interpretive Summary: Beetles represent the largest and most diverse group of animals, and include many devastating pests as well as many beneficial species. The red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, has been assigned high priority by the National Human Genome Research Institute to have its entire genome sequenced in the next year. As the first beetle selected for genome sequencing, Tribolium will now be in a position to serve as a standard of comparison to identify important genes in other beetles. In this minireview, we discuss some of the genetic and genomic tools and biological properties of Tribolium that have established its importance as an organism for agricultural and biomedical research as well as for studies of development and evolution. A Tribolium genomic database, Beetlebase, is being constructed to integrate genetic, genomic and biological data as it becomes available.

Technical Abstract: Beetles (the Coleoptera) comprise the largest and most diverse of all eukaryotic orders. They include many beneficial and deleterious species, the latter associated with billions of dollars of agricultural losses annually. The red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, is one of the most sophisticated genetic model organisms among all higher eukaryotes. This species has been assigned a high priority rating by the National Human Genome Research Institute for whole-genome sequencing, which could be completed within the next year. As the first member of this major taxon to contribute genome-scale sequence data, Tribolium could prove invaluable in linking genome sequence information from Drosophila, honeybee, and Anopheles with vertebrate gene annotation. Tribolium species host a large variety of protozoan and bacterial parasites and/or symbionts that provide fertile material for the study of host/pathogen interactions. Bioactive agents with potential impact on human health and biology have long been sought in the plant and fungal biodiversity present in the tropical rain forests. Beetles, with their unparalleled species and habitat diversity, may represent a major untapped source of antibiotics and biopharmaceuticals. The Tribolium genome sequence will provide the first detailed view of the biosynthetic capabilities of beetles with regard to bioactive agents, as well as their storage, secretion and metabolism. Finally, the availability of detailed genome maps and sophisticated methods for genome manipulation and transformation in Tribolium will ensure that its genome sequence is put to the greatest possible use.