Decoded genome of New World screwworm could help prevent billions of dollars in livestock losses

studycouldle
Credit: Zohara Scott

The New World screwworm’s Latin name means “man-eater.” These shiny blue flies with pumpkin-orange eyes lay up to 400 eggs in open cuts or sores of cattle, goats, deer and other mammals. Emerging larvae begin gnawing away on their hosts, feeding on living and dead tissue and creating ghastly wounds.

Joshua Benoit, an associate professor in UC’s College of Arts and Sciences, contributed to genetic studies of New World screwworms that feed on livestock and thrips, tiny insects that can transmit viruses to tomatoes and other plants.

Benoit and his co-authors sequenced the genome of screwworms and identified ways of slashing populations by targeting particular genes that determine sex and control growth and development or even particular behaviors that help the flies find a suitable animal host.

Related article:  Engineered molecule could protect key food crops from intensifying droughts as climate changes

The New World screwworm is an agricultural menace that causes billions of dollars in livestock losses each year in South America, where it is common.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.

One possible way to cut costs would be to raise only male screwworms that are intended for release so the lab wouldn’t incur the huge costs of feeding female screwworms. UC’s genetic study could help scientists cull females before they hatch.

“So you’re left with surviving males. Then you sterilize the males and that would save a lot of money because you’d only have to raise the males for release,” [Benoit] said.

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Genetics Unzipped
Infographic: How dangerous COVID mutant strains develop

Infographic: How dangerous COVID mutant strains develop

Sometime in 2019, probably in China, SARS CoV-2 figured out a way to interact with a specific "spike" on the ...
Untitled

Philip Njemanze: Leading African anti-GMO activist claims Gates Foundation destroying Nigeria

Nigerian anti-GMO activist, physician, and inventor pushes anti-gay and anti-GMO ...

Most Popular

News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend