Thursday, January 28, 2016


Researchers at the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST) have sequenced the full mitochondrial genome of an agricultural pest known as wireworm.

Wireworm, or Limonius californicus, is a species of click beetle commonly found in crops of potatoes and small grains such as wheat or barley. As larvae, they feed on germinated seeds or young seedlings. They make plants susceptible to other disease, killing them or lowering their market value.

Through the use of the Genomics Resources Core, lead researcher Alida Gerritsen was able to sequence the full mitochondrial genome of the wireworm. Mitochondria are housed within each cell, and contain different genetic material than the cell itself.

“Every cell has a nucleus that contains nuclear DNA. And each cell has mitochondria, which have their own genomes separate from the nuclear DNA. It’s relatively easy to get the mitochondrial DNA sequence out of a cell,” said Gerritsen.

Now that the mitochondrial genome has been sequenced, IBEST researchers as well as researchers across the region, can look at similarities and differences among wireworm infestations specific to individual crops.

“There’s a lot of historical data with mitochondria, so we can build on that,” said Gerritsen. “It’s easy to generate evolutionary relationships.”

The researchers at IBEST hope to continue their work with the wireworm by sequencing the full nuclear genome. Since insecticides are largely ineffective in containing wireworm populations, understanding what genes are involved in pesticide resistance could be a huge advantage to farmers.

The full genome announcement is available at:


Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies
(208) 885-9076



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