Asian tiger mosquito genome sequenced

Asian tiger mosquito

The genome of the Aedes albopictus mosquito could reveal what makes it so adept at invading new territory and sparking outbreaks of chikungunya and dengue fever. 

James Gathany/CDC

Just in time for Halloween, geneticists have unveiled the genome of one of Earth’s most notorious bloodsuckers: the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). 

Aedes albopictus‘ genome is big — the largest mosquito genome sequenced so far — with swaths of repetitive DNA. Researchers also identified exceedingly large groups of genes involved in mosquito immunity, insecticide resistance, sex determination, smell and survival in tough environmental conditions. Such genes may reveal secrets to the species’ success as a global invader and carrier for viruses like chikungunya.

Some sections also resemble viral genomes, supporting the idea that the coevolutionary roots of the mosquitoes and the flaviviruses run deep, researchers report October 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences

Helen Thompson is the multimedia editor. She has undergraduate degrees in biology and English from Trinity University and a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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