The Asian giant hornet — also known as the Murder Hornet — has been sequenced by US Agricultural Research Service scientists, the agency has announced.
Asian giant hornets, which can stretch from 1.5 to 2 inches in length, typically live in an area ranging from northern India to East Asia. But they have been spotted recently in the Pacific Northwest, alarming beekeepers as Asian giant hornets are known to attack honey bees. In May, the New York Times recounted the story of a beekeeper in Washington State who found some of his hives slaughtered and headless, likely by the Asian giant hornets.
By sequencing its genome, ARS researchers say they hope to better address the threat Asian giant hornets pose. "Having this reference genome will help provide a broader biological picture of the Asian giant hornet. It also will help build an understanding of the dynamics of any Asian giant hornet populations in this country and how they may adapt as well as possibly provide information to sharpen the development of controls to prevent them from becoming established," Anna Childers from the ARS Bee Research Laboratory says in a statement.
ARS notes the Asian giant hornet genome is available prior to publication at AgDataCommons and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, as it is trying to make the data available as quickly as possible.