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Entire genome of common forest pest, Eurasian spruce bark beetle, now revealed

Date: 29.9.2021 

Researchers have successfully mapped the entire genome of the Eurasian spruce bark beetle. The breakthrough paves the way for new research into bark beetles and better prospects for effective pest control of a species that can destroy more than 100 million cubic meters of spruce forest during a single year in Europe and Asia.

Kredit: Fredrik Schlyter.Mapping the genome of the Eurasian spruce bark beetle enables a far deeper understanding of how and why it has become a very successful forest pest. Among other things, the researchers' analysis of the genome revealed that the Eurasian spruce bark beetle has an unusually large number of genes that help to break down the cell walls of plants.

In contrast, it does not appear to have an elevated number of genes to enable it to rid its body of foreign substances, which is surprising as the resin in the trees is toxic to the insects.

The recently completed sequencing of the entire genome of the Eurasian spruce bark beetle, Ips typographus, could potentially pave the way for highly specific pest control using what is known as RNA interference (RNAi).

RNAi is a molecular biology tool which specifically suppresses the expression of a gene with high precision, by administering double-stranded RNA into the insect, through food for example. In the future, it is hoped that the RNAi method will also be usable in practical pest control out in the forests.





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