IAH to sequence midge genome
Researchers at the Institute for Animal Health (IAH) have been awarded funding to sequence and study the genome of the Culicoides midge - the biting midge responsible for the spread of such diseases as the Schmallenberg virus.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) has awarded £680,00 to the IAH to enable the scientists to look for the genetics behind the midge's ability to transmit livestock diseases on a global scale.
The midges are responsible for spreading some of the most damaging livestock disease in the world, including blue tongue, African horse sickness and - it is assumed - SBV. There are over 1500 species of the midge worldwide and IAH scientists are aiming to be the first to complete the midge's genome sequence.
They hope the knowledge gained from the project will open up new avenues for prevention and control of some of these important diseases.
Project leader Dr Mark Fife, head of genetics and genomics at IAH, said: “We know that some midges are better at transmitting viruses than others and we have good evidence to suggest that this is down to differences in their genes; the genome sequence will enable us to say which genes are responsible."
Dr Simon Carpenter, head of entomology, added: “At IAH we monitor midge populations across the UK all the time but we don’t always know how good each group is going to be at transmitting viruses. This project will help us to target strategies for prevention and control of diseases far more precisely.”