Genetic Sequencing To Depopulate Invasive Stink Bugs

July 15th, 2015

Genetic Sequencing To Depopulate Invasive Stink Bugs

It seems that the dreaded brown marmorated stink bug’s days may be numbered. If the Investigators at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the University of Maryland Department of Entomology are to be believed, their newly discovered genome-sequencing strategy may be the cause for jubilation from stink bug-weary homeowners and crop-growers nationwide.

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), halyomorpha halys, is one of the most prevalent and invasive pests in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is also one of the most difficult types to destroy or deter, and it has caused millions of dollars in damage through the wide-range destruction of crops.

The research paper, titled, “Rapid transcriptome sequencing of an invasive pest, the brown marmorated stink bug Halymorpha halys,” was published online, August 29, 2014 in BMC Genomics. It was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and promises a new solution for embattled citizens.

“Rather than spending months or even years inbreeding insects in the laboratory in order to simplify the genetic analysis, this study demonstrates a new approach that analyzes a genetically diverse population of insects,” explained Prof. Leslie Pick, chair of the UMD Entomology Department, who guided the research. “This is the first step in our ongoing work to develop a pest control strategy that employs molecular genetic techniques to manage the stink bug invasion without affecting other, potentially beneficial insects.”

Claire M. Fraser, Ph.D., director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, explains how the contents of this study increases experts’ understanding in controlling the rapid breeding of the invasive stink bug.

“The integration of genomic based analysis for invasive pest management may provide rapid responses, similar to approaches in disease epidemiology,” Fraser said.

Experts are also projecting that this study may not only provide a more effective control measure to the ubiquitous stink bug, but may also contribute further understanding in preventing other invasive pests from proliferating in the future.

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