Submitted to: Trends in Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/25/2015
Publication Date: 12/30/2015
Citation: Coates, B.S., Poelchau, M.F., Childers, C., Evans, J.D., Handler, A.M., Guerrero, F., Skoda, S.R., Hopper, K.R., Wintermantel, W.M., Ling, K., Hunter, W.B., Oppert, B.S., Perez De Leon, A.A., Hackett, K.J., Shoemaker, D.D. 2015. Arthropod genomics research in the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service: Current impacts and future prospects. Trends in Entomology. 11(1):1-27.
Interpretive Summary: Arthropods (insects, mites, and ticks) are major pests of cultivated crops and livestock in the United States, which cause significant economic damage that results in lower producer output and profit as well as increased food prices for consumers. Conversely, beneficial insects enhance agricultural productivity through pollination services or predation against arthropods that damage agricultural commodities. Genomics is a recently developed field of research that incorporates new developments in DNA sequencing and computational analyses that greatly facilitates the discovery of novel gene products, and describing changes in structure across entire arthropod genomes or quantifying changes in expression for all genes. ARS scientists involved in this field provide case studies highlighting application of genomic research outcome aimed to solve problems caused by arthropod pests and efforts to support beneficial arthropods. This work will be of interest to stakeholders involved in and benefiting from USDA-ARS agricultural research.
Technical Abstract: The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the intramural research agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which employs scientists to conduct basic and applied research aimed to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority and to ensure food security for domestic and export needs. Economically important and invasive arthropods, especially insect, tick, and mite species, negatively impact the health of every plant and animal, resulting in significant production losses among crop, livestock and forestry commodities amounting to billions of US dollars annually. The economic impact increases further when insect damage to home and urban landscapes is taken into account. The importance of arthropod pest control is highlighted in the setting of "managing new pests, pathogens, and invasive plants," as a top agricultural challenge for the 21st Century by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Ensuring continued viability of beneficial insects in the environment is crucial for the pollination of all horticultural and orchard crops, as well as enhancing natural biological control of pest arthropods and overall ecosystem sustainability. Mitigating damage by arthropod pest species and safeguarding the health of beneficial arthropods are key components for ensuring the stability of agricultural production in the United States and abroad. Developments in genomics, including next generation sequencing (NGS), provide a suite of new research tools within applied agricultural arthropod research. Contributions of ARS to arthropod genomics research are reviewed herein. These research approaches are discussed briefly in the context of improving agricultural production and environmental stewardship. Arthropod genomics research within ARS is contributing significantly to the improvement of agricultural production and environmental stewardship for farmers, the agricultural industry, and consumers alike.