GLASSY-WINGED SHARPSHOOTER AND PIERCE'S DISEASE
Location: Subtropical Insects and Horticulture Research
Title: Metagenomics of Glassy-winged Sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae)
Submitted to: Proceedings of the Congress of the Entomological Society Of Southern Africa
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 2, 2008
Publication Date: July 6, 2008
Citation: Hunter, W.B., Shelby, K.S., Dowd, S.E., Katsar, C.S., Dang, P.M., Hunnicutt, L. 2008. Metagenomics of Glassy-winged Sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) [abstract]. Proceedings of the Congress of the Entomological Society Of Southern Africa. p. 441.
Three new insect-infecting viruses, three endosymbiotic bacteria, a fungus, and a bacterial phage were discovered using a metagenomics approach to identify unknown organisms that live in association with the sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). The genetic composition of 140 adult glassy-winged sharpshooters were used to extract DNA and total RNA for production of cDNA libraries. Metagenomics is a new field combining molecular biology and genetics in an attempt to identify, and characterize the genetic material from unique biological samples. These may be environmental as with soil, air, water, or biological as in animals or plants. The information is then used to solve problems. The extracted DNA from organisms in the unknown system can be compared to all available known genetic systems. In this way, metagenomics is employed as a means of systematically investigating, classifying, and manipulating the entire genetic material isolated from living or environmental samples. The identification of multiple organisms associated with these leafhoppers, such as the three single-stranded RNA viruses, endosymbiotic bacteria, fungus and phage, provide a glimpse of the world inside leafhoppers which we hope can be used to reduce leafhopper survival and vigor. The leafhopper-infecting viruses may provide new biological control agents against leafhoppers as well as provide a gene expression system for leafhoppers. The results also identified genes with similar functions in flies, beetles, bees and humans: Drosophila melanogaster, (~12,500 sequences) followed by Aedes aegypti, (~9,600), Tribolium casteum,(~9,000), Anopheles gambiae,(~8500), Nasonia vitripennis,(~8,000), Apis mellifera, (~6,000) and Homo sapiens (~4,500), plus other species, with a large amount (~20,000 sequences) which did not have significant homology to any known sequence at an e-value <e-10 or better. The dataset is being further mined for enzymes which may aid in post processing of cellulosic waste materials for biofuels or recycling efforts, or used in animal waste systems. Many microorganisms have the ability to degrade waste products, make new drugs for medicine, or even make some of the ingredients of food we eat. Ultimately the information can be applied to address agricultural and environmental problems in effort to create healthier human populations using environmentally friendly technologies. Metagenomics is a new and exciting field of molecular biology that is growing into the standard technique for understanding biological diversity.