The Case for Sequencing the Genome of the Blood-Feeding Hemipteran Insect, Rhodnius prolixus

Erwin Huebner, Michael O'Donnell, Carl Lowenberger, Colin Steel, Ian Orchard, Mario Levin, Beatriz Garcia, Hasson Esteban, Sanchez D.Oscar, Marcelo M. Morales, Hatisaburo Masuda, Ednildo Machado, Pedro Oliveira, Didier Salmon, Mario Silva-Neto, Reinalda Lanfredi, Georgia Atella, Rick Wilson, Katia Gondim, Turan Urmenyi, Paulo Bisch, Jose R.M. Fernandes, Patricia de Azambuja, Wim Degrave, Fernando Monteiro, Aldo Solari, Felipe Guhl, Pedro Alzari, Nilsa G. Britez, Francisco Panzera, Carlos Robello, Donald Champagne, Tim Bradley
Washington University Genome Sequencing Center

There is strong justification to sequence the genome of this remarkable insect because it impacts human biology on many levels and sequence information will contribute to significant advances in biomedical and biological research. The multifold rationale includes: (1) the disease impact of Rhodnius prolixus as a vector for Chagas disease; (2) the significant potential for development of novel biopharmaceuticals; (3) basic cell biology and physiology particularly amenable to research in Rhodnius, such as ion and water transport, evolution of cellular immunity, cell-cell interactions, cytoskeletal biology, reproductive physiology, germ cell biology; (4) Comparative genomics and evolutionary biology as, despite the importance of insects in particular in the biological world, no hemipteran or any other hemimetabolous insect has been sequenced. Sequences available or currently being done include only holometabolous insects of the Diptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera and Coleoptera. Considering the millions of years when evolutionary divergence occurred in these insect groups (eg, Diptera and Lepidoptera some 290 – 350 million years) and the fact that the following array of insects sequenced, in progress or planned (Drosophila melanogaster and 10 other species; Anopheles gambiae, Aedes aegypti, Aedes triseriatus, Aedes albopictus, Culex quinquefasciatus, Bombyx mori, Manduca sexta, Tribolium castaneum and Apis mellifera) includes no hemipterans there is a need to address this. Rhodnius is an especially excellent sequencing candidate, as it is of major medical importance and also provide many other biomedical and biological opportunities as we hope to make clear in this proposal.