Tsetse flies are fascinating insects because of their complete dependence on animal blood for nourishment and for their unusual habit of give birth to a fully mature larva.
IGTRCN Steering Committee member Dr. Serap Aksoy has lead a team of some 140 investigators to successfully sequence the genome of Glossina morsitan.
This is a wonderful accomplishment and hopes are high that new and effective control strategies are in the offing.
Digging into Glossina’s genome using existing insect genetic technologies will be very difficult since essentially all of the germ-line genetic technologies rely on delivery by direct injection of early stage insect embryos with appropriate DNAs, RNAs and/or proteins. For insects that deposit eggs this is often feasible, although challenging, but Gossina females do not deposit eggs – they ‘give birth’ to a mature larva that developed in the fly’s reproductive tract. Direct injection of various genetic platforms into G. morsitans embryos is difficult, at the moment, to imagine.
Indeed, some creativity and invention will be needed and the problem of leveraging contemporary genetic technologies against the GloIssina genome will pose a significant challenge to IGTRCN participants.
Genome Sequence of the Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans): Vector of African Trypanosomiasis; International Glossina Genome Initiative; Science 25 April 2014: ; Vol. 344 no. 6182 pp. 380-386 ; DOI: 10.1126/science.1249656; http://www.sciencemag.org/content/344/6182/380.abstract