The house fly might be a worldwide pest, but its genome will provide information that could improve our lives. From insights into pathogen immunity, to pest control and decomposing waste, the 691 Mb genome has been sequenced and analyzed by a global consortium of scientists, and is published in the open access journal Genome Biology.
The genome highlights detoxification and immune system genes that are unique to the insect, and could be subjects of further study to help humans deal with toxic and disease causing environments.
The house fly (Musca domestica) lives on human and animal waste. They are an important species for scientific study because of their roles as waste decomposers and as carriers of over 100 human diseases, including typhoid, tuberculosis and worms. Fly transmitted trachoma alone causes 6 million cases of childhood blindness each year.
Because the house fly is so intimately involved in human processes, the researchers say sequencing its genome will have implications for human health, identifying the genes that allow flies to live in toxic environments.
The lead author of the paper Jeff Scott, Cornell University, says: “House flies are a fascinating insect for scientists in many areas, such as developmental biology, sex determination, immunity, toxicology and physiology. The completed genome will be a phenomenal tool for researchers in all of these fields and will facilitate rapid advancements.”
The consortium of scientists sequenced the genomes of six female houseflies, creating a 691 Mb long sequence. They compared it to the 123 Mb Drosophila melanogaster genome, to give an indication of the genes that were unique to house fly, and could be candidates for further study.
The comparison showed that the fly had many more immune genes, and that these were of a higher diversity than in the Drosophila genome. Understanding how this fly is immune to the human diseases it carries could help scientists to create treatments or vaccines for these diseases.
The fly genome also contained unique detoxification genes, which produce proteins that help the fly break down waste. Information about these genes could help us to handle human waste and improve the environment.
T: +44 (0)20 3192 2054
Notes to Editor
Genome of the house fly, Musca domestica L., a global vector of diseases with adaptations to a septic environment
Jeffrey G Scott, Wesley C Warren, Leo W Beukeboom, Daniel Bopp, Andrew G Clark, Sarah D Giers, Monika Hediger, Andrew K Jones, Shinji Kasai, Cheryl A Leichter, Ming Li, Richard P Meisel, Patrick Minx, Terence D Murphy, David R Nelson, William R Reid, Frank D Rinkevich, Hugh M Robertson, Timothy B Sackton, David B Sattelle, Francois Thibaud-Nissen, Chad Tomlinson, Louis van de Zande, Kimberly K O Walden, Richard K Wilson and Nannan Liu
Genome Biology 2014 15: 466
Article available at journal website.
Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.
Genome Biology serves the biological research community as an international forum for the dissemination, discussion and critical review of information about all areas of biology informed by genomic research. Key objectives are to provide a guide to the rapidly developing resources and technology in genomics and its impact on biological research, to publish large datasets and extensive results that are not readily accommodated in traditional journals, and to help establish new standards and nomenclature for post-genomic biology.
BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.