Research Highlights

Guava and litchi pest’s mitochondrial genome decoded  

doi:10.1038/nindia.2019.51 Published online 26 April 2019

For the first time, researchers have mapped the mitochondrial genome of a beetle1. Known as guava trunk borer, the beetle thrives on the guava and litchi trees in the northeastern region of India.

Decoding its mitochondrial genes will be useful for DNA barcoding, a method of identifying species of different organisms based on a short and standardised fragment of genomic DNA.

The beetles feed on the tree bark, while their larvae tunnel inside the stem. A recent survey, conducted in Arunachal Pradesh, has shown that it wreaks havoc on the local litchi trees.  Despite its economic importance as a pest, there is no molecular data available for this beetle.

To address this issue, an international research team, including scientists from the ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region in Umiam, the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana and the ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi, all in India, has sequenced the mitochondrial genome of the beetle collected from the state of Meghalaya.

The researchers, led by Ganesh Behere, found that the beetle’s mitochondrial genome, long and circular in nature, contains 15,838 base pairs. It has 13 genes that encode specific proteins and 24 RNA-related genes involved in protein synthesis.

The arrangement and orientations of the genes in the beetle’s mitochondria are identical to other insect species that belong to the order Coleoptera, the largest order of insects, consisting mostly of the beetles and weevils.

The knowledge of the complete mitochondrial genome will allow us to design a better management strategy for controlling the insect pest, says Behere.


References

1. Behere, G. T. et al. Characterization of draft mitochondrial genome of guava trunk borer, Aristobia reticulator (Fabricius, 1781) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae: Lamiinae) from India. Mitochondrial. DNA. Part. B. 4, 1592-1593 (2019)