World’s first ever Wasp genome has been completed in NZ

World’s first ever Wasp genome has been completed in NZ

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The world’s first-ever wasp genome has been completed.

New Zealand researchers from Genomics Aotearoa sequenced the genome of three wasps, of which two are invasive wasps at the University of Otago Te Hernga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington alongside colleagues from the UK, Australia and California successfully after three years of running the project.

A genome completes the set of genetic material present in a cell or organism.

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This new research announced will create a new path for methods of control, to interpret the genomes of the common wasp (Vespula vulgaris), German wasp (Vespula germanica), and the western yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica).

In the biology world, it is a major milestone as it is the first genome produced globally, EVER!

The understanding from the biology of Vespulla wasps that have spread the world are classed as a pest, can now be looked into deeper with the three-year project knowledgebase.

Genomics Aotearoa Director Professor Peter Dearden, who heads the University of Otago team doing the research, says that the vespine wasp populations can reach up to 40 nests per hectare, and is a preditor of New Zealand’s insect species.

The methods to suppress the wasp population is proving a ‘challenge’ and most control methods have been limited to pesticides which are bad for the environment, and also wasps could gain a pesticide resistance which may create a larger problem in the future.

Mr Dearden is hoping that the research will now be able to use the genome sequences to allow for more research and develop next-generation control strategies.

The research team in New Zealand has identified the genes that may encode specific biology which may be suitable for further targeting in future, and it will provide species-specific targets for novel control methods, such as RNA interference, gene drives and damaging viruses.

“This is exciting science and presents us with real opportunity. We have the chance to use leading-edge technology for much more targeted and effective wasp control than has ever been possible” Professor Dearden said.

“It could make all the difference to a major environmental issue,” concluded Mr Dearden.


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