Sunday, November 27, 2011

Two-spotted spider mite genome decoded

A recent article in the journal Nature has a report on the genomic decoding of the Two-Spotted Spider Mite.

The insect is a pest who mainly consume crops such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, soybeans, and corn, while also being an ornamental plant predator.  The spider mite is capable of eating a large variety of plant species and is resistant to pesticides.  Its size, about one millimeter, and the fact that it multiplies at a rapid pace in the presence of high temperatures, make the pest notorious in eradication efforts.  55 scientists spent time analyzing the gene expression of the spider mite to determine the mRNA made, subsequently leading to the identification of proteins.  Of the 18,414 genes, 15,397 were activated for protein creation.  The 90 million base pairs of the insect prove to be the smallest genome sequenced of any known arthropod.  So far, this information has lead to the discovery of genes that are capable of detoxifying pesticides and toxins.  Scientists hope to utilize these findings to identify methods that could potentially disrupt the biochemical pathways of the feeding mite.


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