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‘Platinum-level’ genome will advance Purdue mosquito research

 woman in from of microscope

A new and thorough genome sequence for the Aedes aegypti mosquito will help Purdue University entomologists develop more effective controls for the insects, which are known to carry and transmit the viruses that cause Zika, yellow fever, and dengue fever.

Purdue University scientists, including Catherine Hill, professor of entomology, and Shruti Sharan a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Entomology, contributed to the advanced genome. In findings published in the journal Nature, the genome is reported to be a 100-fold improvement over the previous Aedes aegypti assembly and mapped more than 94 percent of the genome onto the mosquito’s three chromosomes. 

“It’s a platinum-level genome. We’ve never had a research resource of this quality before for Aedes aegypti,” Hill said.

Hill’s lab is interested in a group of genes that encode G-protein coupled receptors, which are involved in regulating neurological processes in the mosquito. For this genome, Hill’s team identified all the genes associated with those proteins and all the protein receptors that could be used to develop insecticides.

“Now we can go in and develop precision strategies against specific receptors and targets. There’s no working in the dark anymore. It’s really directed and really precise,” Hill said. 

Photo credits: Purdue University image/Vincent Walter

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