NEW YORK, Dec. 8, (GenomeWeb News) - The National Institutes of Health approved Purdue University's body louse project towards sequencing the complete body louse genome, the university said yesterday.
Purdue's insect geneticist Barry Pittendrigh has identified some genes involved in the louse's digestion of human blood and their response to bacteria. University of Massachusetts environmental toxicologist John Clark discovered a way to maintain colonies of genetically uniform lice.
A team led by these two researchers will collect preliminary information on the lice genome and send the data to one of the five centers that are part of National Human Genome Research Institute's Large-Scale Sequencing Network. NHGRI has not chosen the facility at this time, which will perform the actual sequencing.
NHGRI's Geoff Spencer told GenomeWeb News that the sequencing will be in the pipeline within a year.
The body louse genome is one of the seven non-mammalian organisms chosen by NIH and one of the three targeted for a high-quality sequence. Researchers hope the louse genome and the human genome will provide clues to understanding diseases transmitted by these insects, such as typhus.
Indiana's 21st Century Research and Technology Fund and the Indiana Center for Insect Genomics provided funding for the preliminary work on the louse genome.