The genome sequence of the disease-carrying tsetse fly reveals potential targets for fly-control measures to stop the spread of disease.
Tsetse flies are the sole carriers of a protozoan parasite that causes trypanosomiasis in humans (known as sleeping sickness) and in livestock throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Members of the International Glossina Genome Initiative sequenced the DNA of the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans morsitans, which transmits the parasite to livestock. They found genes that are responsible for some of the fly's unique features, such as its ability to produce milk for its offspring and its attraction to the colour blue.
The genomic data could enable researchers to develop methods for manipulating the insect's reproduction, for example, thus helping to control tsetse-fly populations.
For a longer story on this research, see go.nature.com/yrum7w
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Genome of the tsetse fly decoded. Nature 509, 11 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/509011d