About the Project
This project focuses on unique genes in the Heteroptera, or “true” bugs, including the high-risk brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), an invasive pest that is able to feed on a wide array of plant species and plant tissue types. We recently identified lateral gene transfer events from bacteria that have conferred cell wall degradation capacity within the common ancestor of H. halys and the lab research model Oncopeltus fasciatus, the milkweed bug, where positive selection has led to copy number expansion of this gene in both species . Our recent comparative genomic and transcriptomic datasets have also identified novel, Heteroptera-specific genes that are implicated in embryogenesis as essential factors. This project will combine computational and wet bench experimental approaches, building on our recent work in sequencing the genomes and transcriptomes of pest species [e.g., 2, 3], constructing comparative databases of species’ metabolic repertoires [based on 4], and reverse-genetics functional testing (RNAi) in representative lab insect models [5, 6]. Comparative approaches incorporating data from >100 insect species with sequenced genomes will ground the evaluation and testing of target genes’ expression and function.
Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:
- in vivo gene expression
- Comparative genomics
- RNA interference (RNAi)
Benoit, J.B., Adelman, Z.N., Reinhardt, K., Dolan, A., Poelchau, M., Jennings, E.C., Szuter, E.M., Hagan, R.W., Gujar, H., Shukla, J., et al. (2016). Unique features of a global human ectoparasite identified through sequencing of the bed bug genome. Nat. Commun. 7, 10165.
McKenna, D.D., Scully, E.D., Pauchet, Y., Hoover, K., Kirsch, R., Geib, S.M., Mitchell, R.F., Waterhouse, R.M., Ahn, S.-J., Arsala, D., et al. (2016). Genome of the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), a globally significant invasive species, reveals key functional and evolutionary innovations at the beetle–plant interface. Genome Biol. 17, 227.
Baa-Puyoulet, P., Parisot, N., Febvay, G., Huerta-Cepas, J., Vellozo, A.F., Gabaldón, T., Calevro, F., Charles, H., and Colella, S. (2016). ArthropodaCyc: a CycADS powered collection of BioCyc databases to analyse and compare metabolism of arthropods. Database (Oxford) pii, baw081.
Horn, T., and Panfilio, K.A. (2016). Novel functions for Dorsocross in epithelial morphogenesis in the beetle Tribolium castaneum. Development 143, 3002-3011.
Panfilio, K.A., Liu, P.Z., Akam, M., and Kaufman, T.C. (2006). Oncopeltus fasciatus zen is essential for serosal tissue function in katatrepsis. Dev. Biol. 292, 226-243.
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