Genome Sequencing and Analysis May Offer Tools to Combat the Invasive Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) lists more than 100 invasive species already posing threats in Switzerland, including the Asian longhorned beetle and other insects such as the box tree moth, the harlequin ladybird, the Asian tiger mosquito, and the Ambrosia and Colorado potato beetles. The Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research (WSL) considers the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) to be one of the most dangerous pests affecting broadleaf trees. The adult female beetles chew through the tree's bark to lay their eggs in a small hole, so as soon as the larvae hatch they have a ready source of vascular plant tissue on which to feed. As they mature, the larvae then make tunnels deep into the tree's heartwood, with each larva capable of consuming up to 1,000 cubic centimeters of wood in its lifetime. The emerging adults will usually produce the next generation on the same host tree, but high-density infestations will eventually kill the tree so they must disperse to find new host trees for their young. It is likely that the first invaders were unknowingly imported as larvae hidden inside wooden packaging materials. New laws requiring such packaging from China to be heat-dried or chemically treated to kill any larvae have helped to limit new invasions, and effective pest inspections and increasing public awareness are proving successful to help prevent any further spread of Asian longhorned beetles in Switzerland. The collaborative research project to sequence, annotate, and explore the Anoplophora glabripennis genome was led by Professor Duane McKenna from the University of Memphis, with DNA sequencing and genome assembly performed at the the Baylor College of Medicine and directed by Professor Stephen Richards as part of the i5K arthropod genome initiative.
Login Or Register To Read Full Story