Barcoding of invasive pests, infections underway

March 8th, 2010 - 7:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, March 8 (IANS) After barcoding for books and consumer items, a library of insect DNA barcodes, being built by researcher David Gopurenko, is likely to tilt the battle against invasive pests.
The barcoding work characterises a single gene across a broad range of species and information from the gene is used as a DNA barcode for identification of the species.

As more species are barcoded, the library builds up and can be used as a reference to later identify suspected insects pests.

The technology is easily applied to insect eggs and larvae, which are often impossible to identify by visual means only.

“Barcoding of insect DNA provides a rapid means of species identification greatly assisting and speeding efforts of the traditional insect taxonomists… especially invasive pests”, said Gopurenko of the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute.

“Insect populations can exhibit different levels of resistance to pesticides and barcoding insect DNA can provide valuable information for identification and control of these pests,” he said.

“The DNA barcoding initiative is global and genetic information is shared with researchers from numerous other countries, which is essential in a world where pests are now so easily transported from one country to another,” Gopurenko said.

He also said climate change may affect insect distributions, which would put even more pressure on researchers to rapidly identify outbreak pest species and their source populations, said a Wagga Wagga release.

The genetic library at Wagga Wagga currently has DNA barcodes for more than 4,000 specimens and includes leaf hopper species, which can spread bacterial diseases across a broad range of crops.

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