Insect Genomics

Evolutionary genomics studies of insects and the development of new model insects

Recent remarkable technological advancements in genomics (e.g. next generation sequencing), genome editing (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9) and imaging (e.g. super-resplution microscopes) are trasforming today’s biology. These new technologies allow us to study any organisms at molecular and genetic levels, which has been difficult for non-model organisms. Insect science is also benefited by the technological innovation. New entomology is starting to study the amazing variety of morphology, phisiology and ethology of insects by using these state-of-the-art technologies. Our group is developing a platform for emerging model insects to read the genomes/transcriptomes and then manipulate their genomes. We focus on several emerging model insects, termites and aphids as a model to study sociality evolution, a firefly as a model to study bioluminescence, and rhinoceros beetle to study sexual dimorphisms.

Genome analysis of fireflies

We sequenced the genomes of the Japanese firefly Heike-botaru, Aquatica lateralis, and the North American firefly, Photinus pyralis, through the collaboration with Prof Oba (Chubu Univ) and US MIT teams. We revealed the evolutionary process of bioluminescence in these insects (Fallon et al., 2018). We discovered that luciferase, the key enzyme behind the glow generated by the above listed fireflies, arose from duplications and divergences of CoA ligase genes involved in fat metabolism, (which in itself is unrelated to luminescence).