Researchers from the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food
and the Environment (INRAE) in France reported 49 plant genestransferred
to the genomeof the silver whitefly, a major crop pest in the tropics
and subtropics. This is the first report of such an amount of gene
transfers from plants toInsects.
The researchers usedBioinformaticsanalysis to pinpoint the genes in the
whitefly genome derived from 24 independent horizontal gene transfer
events. Most genes identified, such as those involved in producing
enzymes that break down plant cell walls, play a known role in
relationships between plants and their parasites. This may imply that
the outcome of the natural selection of plant genes in insects may have
enabled the whitefly to adapt to an extensive range of plant species.
The findings provide opportunities to explore the relationships between
plants and insects, leading to innovative pest control techniques and
less pesticide use.