Scientists discover the Mediterranean fruit fly’s genetic code

By Jan Suszkiw, Agricultural Research Service

An international team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other research organizations have sequenced the complete genome of the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata. This pest attacks more than 260 fruit, vegetable and nut crops worldwide, causing billions of dollars annually in direct damage, export sanctions, lost markets, and other costs.

Reported in the September issue of Genome Biology, this advance is like finding the medfly’s playbook of life. It gives researchers an edge in spotting weaknesses to exploit, particularly genes tied to the pest’s ability to reproduce, withstand pathogens, find host plants, and break down environmental toxins. The advance should also foster greater understanding of how the insect’s genetics make it such a successful invasive pest. Continue reading