Application of chemical pesticides represents one of the major costs of agricultural production and is a key source of environmental pollution and introduction of carcinogens into the human food chain. The current need for novel methods of pest control coincide with advances in crop genomics that open novel avenues for biotechnology and plant breeding. In contrast, genomic resources for pest species, necessary for the development of new control strategies, are lagging behind. Thus, a current gap in knowledge about pest genetics, genomics and plant-pest interactions is a major obstacle for the development of alternative pest control strategies. To circumvent these problems I propose to exploit a novel pest genomic resource developed by my lab: the whole-genome sequence of a major agricultural pest, the spider mite Tetranychus urticae, in order to develop new pest control strategies. T. urticae is a generalist herbivore and a major agricultural pest. It feeds on more then 1500 plant species. Chemical pesticides are the predominant method of controlling spider mites, but mites have rapidly evolved resistance to all major pesticide groups. My goal is to develop a basis for environmentally sound pest control strategies using a multidisciplinary combination of pest and plant genomics, bioinformatics, genetics and population biology that will allow us to: 1. Annotate the genome of the T. urticae and develop tools for spider mite whole genome transcriptome analysis. 2. Establish a T. urticae genetic map. 3. Analyse natural variation of plant resistance to spider mites using high-throughput genomic technologies. 4. Analyse pest transcriptomes as a consequence of feeding on resistant and susceptible plants. This research will expand our knowledge of plant-pest interactions on the whole genome level and will provide strategies for reduction of environmental pollution and energy consumption resulting in improved human health and sustainable agricultural production.
Field of science
- /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/genome
- /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture/agronomy/plant breeding
- /natural sciences/earth and related environmental sciences/environmental sciences/pollution
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