The genome of the American cockroach is presented in an analysis published online in Nature Communications. The study reveals insights into the genetic basis of the species' success in adapting to urban environments.
The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is an omnivorous scavenger and one of the largest insect species that lives in close proximity to humans. Its rapid growth, high fecundity, and tissue regeneration capability, have contributed to its ability to survive in urban settings.
Shuai Zhan and colleagues sequenced and analyzed the genome of the American cockroach and show that it has the second largest insect genome sequenced after that of the locust. They found that gene families associated with chemoreception (the process by which organisms respond to chemical stimuli in their environment) and detoxification (to tolerate chemical and biological factors) have experienced an expansion. In addition, the authors identified signaling pathways involved in development and regeneration, and suggest that the American cockroach could potentially be used as a model system for investigating cockroach biology.
The authors conclude that the findings may shed light on ways to control this insect.