Genomics solutions to the riddle of the tobacco hornworm sphinx moth

Monday, August 15, 2016 - 18:01 in Biology & Nature

Manduca sexta caterpillars can grow up to 10 cm long making them ideal for laboratory experiments to investigate their biochemistry and physiology. "Whooo ... are ... you?" asked the hookah-smoking caterpillar of Alice, in Wonderland. Asking the question of the caterpillar instead, an international team of scientists have published their findings from the sequencing, annotation, and exploration of the genome of the tobacco hornworm moth. The project involved 114 scientists from 50 research institutions worldwide, including from the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the University of Geneva (UNIGE). This remarkable moth and strikingly beautiful and very large caterpillar are known by the Latin name, Manduca sexta, but also as the tobacco hornworm, Carolina sphinx moth, goliath worm, or 'Le sphinx du tabac'. The giant caterpillars are a favourite childhood pet, but they are considered serious agricultural pests as they feed voraciously on tobacco, potato, tomato, and pepper plants....

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