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SWAT Team Convenes for Tsetse Fly Sequencing Project

NEW YORK, Jan. 29 (GenomeWeb News) - Move over Drosophila. The tsetse fly, Glossina spp. is on deck to become the latest sequenced six-legger, with an international consortium recently formed to tackle the job, according to today's Nature.


This International Glossina Genomics initiative, which launched Jan 19-20 at a meeting oft the UN Tropical Disease Research Program in Geneva, has generated buzz because the organizers are involving African scientists at the ground level. The group plans to do the sequencing in Europe and the US, but will house the sequence databases at the South African National Bioinformatics Institute at the University of Western Cape, near Cape Town, South Africa.


The 23 species of Glossina are important organisms in public health and agriculture, as they carry the trypanosome parasites that are responsible for African sleeping sickness, or trypanosomiasis, as well as animal trypanosomiasis. African sleeping sickness infects up to half a million people, and there is no highly safe drug available now to treat it, according to the Nature article.


The consortium now needs to decide if the fly species that is currently chosen to be sequenced, Glossina morsitans, is in fact the best model species for G. palpalis, the vector for human disease. G. palpalis is not going to be sequenced because it has a repeat-rich sequence that is about 7 billion bases, whereas G. morsitans' sequence is 600 megabases, according to the article.


The group has initial funds to cover the first nine-month phase of the project, then is seeking $10 million to complete the genome by 2006.

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