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ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Insect Control and Cotton Disease Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #396981

Research Project: Novel Approaches for Management of Row Crop Pests and Continued Boll Weevil Eradication

Location: Insect Control and Cotton Disease Research

Title: Insight into weevil biology from a reference quality genome of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)

item Cohen, Zachary
item Perkin, Lindsey
item Sim, Sheina
item Stahlke, Amanda
item Geib, Scott
item Childers, Anna
item Smith, Timothy - Tim
item Suh, Charles

Submitted to: G3, Genes/Genomes/Genetics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2022
Publication Date: 12/1/2022
Citation: Cohen, Z.P., Perkin, L.C., Sim, S.B., Stahlke, A.R., Geib, S.M., Childers, A.K., Smith, T.P., Suh, C.P. 2022. Insight into weevil biology from a reference quality genome of the boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). G3, Genes/Genomes/Genetics. Article jkac309.

Interpretive Summary: Contemporary management or eradication strategies against the boll weevil generally involve the use of pheromone traps to monitor weevil populations, and repeated insecticide applications to suppress weevil populations and feeding damage in cotton. While this strategy has been successful in eradicating the boll weevil from all cotton-growing areas of the U.S., except along the Texas/Mexico border, this approach is costly and may not be feasible or sustainable in other parts of the world. We sequenced and assembled the whole genome of the boll weevil to identify genes and gene families that may be targeted with modern molecular tools to disrupt critical life processes such as pheromone production and detection, reproduction, and insect development. The reference genome will not only serve as the foundation for the development of novel control strategies that are more eco-friendly, safer, and target-specific for the boll weevil, but will also serve as a reference genome to better understand the biology and ecology of other weevil pests.

Technical Abstract: The boll weevil, Anthonomus grandis grandis Boheman, is one of the most historically impactful insect due to its near destruction of the U.S. cotton industry in the early 20th century. Contemporary efforts to manage this insect primarily use pheromone baited traps for detection and organophosphate insecticides for control, but this strategy is not sustainable due to financial and environmental costs. We present a high-quality boll weevil genome assembly, consisting of 306 scaffolds with approximately 24,000 annotated genes, as a first step in the identification of gene targets for novel pest control. Gene content and transposable element distribution are similar to those found in other Curculionidae genomes; however, this is the most contiguous assembly for a member in the species-rich genus Anthonomus. Transcriptome profiles across larval, pupal, and adult life stages led to identification of several genes and gene families that could present targets for novel control strategies.