Plant and human genome researchers have uncovered myriad pathways toward understanding health and longevity, determining genes that code for things like disease tolerance and nutrient needs. A new bug gene-sequencing project aims to do the same — only the goal is to find genomic Achilles’ heels, to help people kill insects more easily.Entomologists are submitting suggestions for 5,000 insects and other arthropods whose genomes should be sequenced, in a hunt for vulnerable regions that can be targeted with pesticides. The five-year 5000 Insect and Other Arthropod Genome Initiative, otherwise known as the i5K Initiative, will target insects that are known to be important to worldwide agriculture, food safety and medicine, among other impacts.
The study will examine insects that serve as disease transmitters and close relatives that do not, so researchers can compare genes that make some insects disease vectors and others benign. Certain species of mosquito, for instance, carry diseases like malaria or yellow fever, while other species do not, and understanding the genomic difference could help fight the disease-carrying types.