A step ahead

Genome sequence underway

Published: Friday 15 September 2006

a group of Australian scientists has started the complete genome sequencing of bollworm, world's worst agricultural pest. It inflicts an annual damage of us $5 billion on farmers worldwide.

Phill Batterham of Melbourne's Bio 21 Institute is leading the programme. According to Batterham, "We need to fight the pest more intelligently. Genome sequence will provide complete details about the strength and vulnerabilities of the bollworm."

The institute is working with the Max Planck Institute in Germany and partners in India, China and France. They have identified the genetic basis of resistance to some insecticides. Batterham has pledged us $10 billion to fight the pest, which affects 100 major agricultural crops across the world. The group also has a national programme for India, considering the economic losses incurred by the Indian farmers (see 'Long yarn', Down To Earth, March 31, 2006) due to American bollworm infestation.

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