Beetle Genome Sequenced [LiveScience 2008-03-26]
Beetle Genome Sequenced
Scientists have sequenced the genome of the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. This species is the first beetle and the first insect pest whose genome has been sequenced.
The beetle's genome consists of about 200 million nucleotides (DNA building blocks) that code for about 16,000 genes (or 16,000 proteins). The researchers say the sequence will help develop new ways to protect food plants against beetles.
Seventy-five percent of all animal species in the world are insects. The largest group within insects are beetles (400,000 species). Beetles can be very beautiful and colorful, but many beetle species are also serious agricultural pests that destroy food plants like potatoes (the Colorado potato beetle) and threaten large areas of forest. Insect pests cause $26 billion in losses to U.S. agriculture every year, and beetles are responsible for a substantial part of this. The red flour beetle eats dried commodities such as corn, maize, rice, and flour.
Image Credit: Peggy Greb, USDA, ARS