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The genome of the Yellow Mealworm, Tenebrio molitor: it’s bigger than you think

Oppert, Brenda; Dossey, Aaron T.; Chu, Fu-Chyun; Šatović-Vukšić, Eva; Plohl, Miroslav; Smith, Timothy P. L.; Koren, Sergey; Olmstead, Morgan L.; Leierer, Dewey; Ragan, Gail; Johnston, J. Spencer (2023) The genome of the Yellow Mealworm, Tenebrio molitor: it’s bigger than you think. Genes, 14 (12). ISSN 2073-4425

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Insects are a sustainable source of protein for human food and animal feed. We present a genome assembly, CRISPR gene editing, and life stage-specific transcriptomes for the yellow mealworm, Tenebrio molitor, one of the most intensively farmed insects worldwide. Methods: Long and short reads and long-range data were obtained from a T. molitor male pupa. Sequencing transcripts from 12 T. molitor life stages resulted in 279 million reads for gene prediction and genetic engineering. A unique plasmid delivery system containing guide RNAs targeting the eye color gene vermilion flanking the muscle actin gene promoter and EGFP marker was used in CRISPR/Cas9 transformation. Results: The assembly is approximately 53% of the genome size of 756.8 +/- 9.6 Mb, measured using flow cytometry. Assembly was complicated by a satellitome of at least 11 highly conserved satDNAs occupying 28% of the genome. The injection of the plasmid into embryos resulted in knock-out of Tm vermilion and knock-in of EGFP. Conclusions: The genome of T. molitor is longer than current assemblies (including ours) due to a substantial amount (26.5%) of only one highly abundant satellite DNA sequence. Genetic sequences and transformation tools for an insect important to the food and feed industries will promote the sustainable utilization of mealworms and other farmed insects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: CRISPR Cas9 gene editing; insects as food and feed; insect genomics and genetics; stored product insect; Tenebrio molitor; yellow mealworm
Subjects: NATURAL SCIENCES > Biology
NATURAL SCIENCES > Biology > Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Divisions: Division of Molecular Biology
Depositing User: Eva Šatović Vukšić
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2024 14:08
DOI: 10.3390/genes14122209

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