The complete genome of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata has
been sequenced by an international team of scientists from 25 research
organizations around the world led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) and Justus-Liebig-University Giessen in Germany.
The Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) attacks more than 260 fruit, vegetable,
and nut crops worldwide, causing billions of dollars annually in direct
damage, export sanctions, lost markets, and other costs. The 479Mb medfly
genome is sequenced from adult flies inbred for 20 generations. The
researchers found specific genes tied to the pest's ability to reproduce,
withstand pathogens, find host plants, and break down environmental toxins.
The researchers plan on 'mining' the medfly's genome for information to
improve the effectiveness of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), an approach
used worldwide that involves mass-rearing medflies in the lab and
sterilizing the males for release into the wild to mate, resulting in eggs
that won't hatch.
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