Submitted to: Journal of Applied Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/19/2009
Publication Date: 6/1/2010
Citation: Miller, N.J., Richards, S., Sappington, T.W. 2010. The Prospects for Sequencing the Western Corn Rootworm Genome. Journal of Applied Entomology. 134(5):420-428. Interpretive Summary: The western corn rootworm is arguably the most destructive pest of corn in the United States and also is invading Europe. University and government scientists in North America and Europe are engaged in a variety of genetic and genomic studies of western corn rootworm, particularly with respect to the species' invasiveness and capacity to evolve resistance to insecticides and other control methods. Until recently, the sequencing of an organism's genome has been extraordinarily complex and expensive. Thus, the only insect genomes to be sequenced have been those such as the fruit fly, honey bee, flour beetle, and silk moth, for which large amounts of genetic data were already available making them model species, or for insects important to human health like mosquitos. Because the western corn rootworm genome is large, nearly as large as the human genome, the cost of sequencing it has been prohibitive in the past. A new generation of DNA sequencing technologies has recently become available that are expected to dramatically lower the cost of genome sequencing. These technologies are not presently quite mature enough to be used to sequence the western corn rootworm genome but almost certainly will be within two years. In the meantime there are a number of other resources that are being developed in preparation for a genome sequencing program. The assets in place and those still needed to make a sequencing project a reality are discussed. Having the sequence of the western corn rootworm genome available would facilitate existing studies, greatly reduce the costs of future research, and open new avenues of research into potential innovative management tools. This information will be used by government and university scientists.
Technical Abstract: Historically, obtaining the complete sequence of eukaryotic genomes has been an expensive and complex task. For this reason, efforts to sequence insect genomes have largely been confined to model organisms, species that are important to human health, and representative species from a few insect orders. This situation is set to change as a number of "next generation" sequencing technologies are making large-scale DNA sequencing both affordable and accessible. Sequencing the genome of the western corn rootworm, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, is likely to become a realistic proposition within the next two years. In the meantime, there is an active community of Diabrotica geneticists and biologists who are working to assemble the resources that will be needed for a genome sequencing project. A western corn rootworm genome sequence will be an invaluable resource that will facilitate research into the genetics, evolution, and ecology of a major pest of maize agriculture in North America and Europe.