A proposal for tsetse fly (Glossina) genome projects

Serap Aksoy, International Glossina Genomics Community
Genome Sequencing Center, Washington University

The Glossina (tsetse flies) are vectors of African trypanosomes, which are of medical and economic importance. 1.35 million DALYs are lost due to Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) and mortality related to HAT is ranked ninth out of 25 among the human infectious and parasitic diseases in Africa. Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT) causes approximately 3 million cattle deaths per year and farmers administer about 35 million doses of trypanocidal drugs at a cost of US$ 1-1.2 billion, resulting in total agricultural losses estimated at US$ 4.75 billion per year. Despite considerable research into trypanosomes, the toolbox for disease control is limited with neither vaccines nor effective and affordable drugs available in the near future. The African Union has made removal of trypanosomiasis via tsetse control a key priority for the continent. New and/or improved control tools will be developed through the expanded genomic resources proposed here.

This document proposes sequencing of 5 Glossina genomes (average size 400 Mb) and two related Dipterans, a non-vector obligate blood feeder (stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans) and a non-blood feeding mechanical vector of numerous human pathogens (the house fly, Musca domestica). The data will complement and facilitate comparative analysis with the nearly complete Glossina morsitans morsitans genome and the available multiple Drosophila genomes. We propose deep sampling of two human vector species belonging to the Palpalis group and an animal vector species closely related to G. m. morsitans, followed by sampling at increasing evolutionary distances within Glossina and the related Dipterans. We also propose transcriptome sequencing for each species in support of genome annotation and functional comparative studies as a high priority. Sequencing of desirable populations at low coverage will enable SNP discovery projects to expand functional genomics studies and future field investigations.