UCT researchers assist in tsetse fly genetic code breakthrough

1 Jun 2016 - 10:00
Glossina Morsitans Genome
Glossina Morsitans Genome in Science

UCT researchers assist in tsetse fly genetic code breakthrough

An international team, including researchers at the University of Cape Town and Yale University in the USA, has sequenced and annotated the genetic code (genome) for a representative species of the tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans), which carries the potentially fatal African trypanosomes to humans and animals in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to "...disease control, the genome is an important resource for evolutionary biology. Tsetse flies are unique from most other insects in multiple aspects of their biology. An example of this is the tsetse’s evolution of lactation – a defining aspect of mammalian biology. The independent evolution of this physiology in the tsetse allows the comparison of the commonalities and differences between the two systems. Surprisingly, analyses of proteins in tsetse milk reveal significant similarities to those found within mammalian milk. The tsetse also develops its young in the uterus and gives live birth, while most other insects lay eggs. Insights gained from such comparisons will increase understanding of how such dramatic changes develop at the genetic level in related organisms..."

Read the complete press release.