Friday, January 12, 2007

Got The Guts?

According to this press release, the Asian longhorned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) has been targeted for a new genetic study, but not for the reasons that you might think. The project, spearheaded by Penn State University, aims to sequence the gut flora of the beetle to determine why they are so good at destroying trees. While other wood-boring beetle species eat only decaying wood, the Asian longhorned beetle also consumes wood from the healthy, living parts of trees. Scientists are speculating that the beetles may have microbes in their gut that produce enzymes to help break down the components of wood. The U.S. Department of Energy is hoping the study may lead to new developments in the processing of biofuels. I wonder whether they'll be sequencing samples from introduced populations as well as populations from the native range?

No comments: