Virginia Tech entomologists have developed a chromosome map for about half of the genome of the mosquito Aedes agypti, the major carrier of dengue fever and yellow fever.
With the map, researchers can compare the chromosome organization and evolution between this mosquito and the major carrier of malaria, the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, to find ways to prevent diseases.
The red and blue signals indicate positions of interest for researchers on the chromosomes of the mosquito Aedes aegypti, the principal carrier of dengue and yellow fevers. Courtesy of Maria Sharakhova.
“Despite looking somewhat similar, these mosquitoes diverged from each other about 150 million years ago. So, they are genetically further apart than humans and elephants,” said Maria Sharakhova, a research scientist in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate, and the principal investigator of the study published in BMC Biology and highlighted on Biome.
The researchers say that the genome of the malaria mosquito is clearly separated into gene-rich and gene-poor compartments, while the genome of the yellow fever mosquito has no such differentiation. The study supports the observation that sex determination is also handled differently in the two mosquito species which could be useful in devising prevention measures.
In the malaria mosquito, X and Y chromosomes determine sex, but in the yellow fever mosquito, sex in males is determined just by a small location on chromosome 1.
Despite these differences, sex chromosome X in the malaria mosquito and chromosome 1 in the yellow fever mosquito evolve much faster than other chromosomes, meaning that the sex-determining segment of chromosome 1 may influence the rate of the change.
The discovery is significant because only female mosquitoes bite and transmit infectious diseases. Understanding the mechanisms of the sex chromosomes may help to manipulate the sex ratio in mosquitoes and reduce disease transmission.
“The development of novel approaches to disease control will be definitely more successful if we better understand the differences and similarities in the genomes ofthe yellow fever and malaria vectors,” Sharakhova said.
Although the genome of the yellow fever mosquito was published in 2007, the lack of a detailed physical genome map prevented researchers from analyzing the chromosome genetic composition and evolution. The large size of the yellow fever mosquito’s genome — about one third of the human genome size and five times larger than the malaria mosquito’s genome — complicated genomic mapping efforts.
“The physical genome map developed in this study will guide efforts to significantly improve the genome assembly for the yellow fever mosquito and will facilitate more advanced studies of the genome organization and chromosome evolution in mosquitoes,” said Igor Sharakhov, an associate professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a Fralin Life Science Institute affiliate, and co-author on the paper.
Other study authors include Vladimir A. Timoshevskiy, a postdoctoral research associate in entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Nicholas Kinney of Leesburg, Virginia, a graduate student in the genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology program at Virginia Tech; Zhijian Tu, a professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Chunhong Mao, a senior project associate at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute; David W. Severson, a professor of biological sciences at Eck Institute for Global Health of the University of Notre Dame, and Becky S. deBryun, a technician in the Severson laboratory.
A premiere Research Institute of Virginia Tech, the Fralin Life Science Institute enables and enhances collaborative efforts in research, education, and outreach within the Virginia Tech life science community through strategic investments that are often allied with colleges, departments, and other institutes.
Lindsay Taylor Key | Eurek Alert!
Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly
The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Life Sciences
13.11.2018 | Awards Funding