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Aquatic Insects Are Dramatically Underrepresented in Genomic Research

1
School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164, USA
2
Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84062, USA
3
Data Science Lab, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20002, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Insects 2020, 11(9), 601; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090601
Received: 20 August 2020 / Revised: 1 September 2020 / Accepted: 3 September 2020 / Published: 5 September 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Insect Genomics)
The genome is the basic evolutionary unit underpinning life on Earth. Knowing its sequence, including the many thousands of genes coding for proteins in an organism, empowers scientific discovery for both the focal organism and related species. Aquatic insects represent 10% of all insect diversity, can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and are key components of freshwater ecosystems. However, aquatic insect genome biology lags dramatically behind that of terrestrial insects. If genomic effort was spread evenly, one aquatic insect genome would be sequenced for every ~9 terrestrial insect genomes. Instead, ~24 terrestrial insect genomes have been sequenced for every aquatic insect genome. A lack of aquatic genomes is limiting research progress in the field at both fundamental and applied scales. We argue that the limited availability of aquatic insect genomes is not due to practical limitations—small body sizes or overly complex genomes—but instead reflects a lack of research interest. We call for targeted efforts to expand the availability of aquatic insect genomic resources to empower future research.
Aquatic insects comprise 10% of all insect diversity, can be found on every continent except Antarctica, and are key components of freshwater ecosystems. However, aquatic insect genome biology lags dramatically behind that of terrestrial insects. If genomic effort was spread evenly, one aquatic insect genome would be sequenced for every ~9 terrestrial insect genomes. Instead, ~24 terrestrial insect genomes have been sequenced for every aquatic insect genome. This discrepancy is even more dramatic if the quality of genomic resources is considered; for instance, while no aquatic insect genome has been assembled to the chromosome level, 29 terrestrial insect genomes spanning four orders have. We argue that a lack of aquatic insect genomes is not due to any underlying difficulty (e.g., small body sizes or unusually large genomes), yet it is severely hampering aquatic insect research at both fundamental and applied scales. By expanding the availability of aquatic insect genomes, we will gain key insight into insect diversification and empower future research for a globally important taxonomic group. View Full-Text
Keywords: Ephemeroptera; Plecoptera; Trichoptera; Odonata; Megaloptera; genome biology; freshwater science; insect genomics; arthropod; nuclear genome Ephemeroptera; Plecoptera; Trichoptera; Odonata; Megaloptera; genome biology; freshwater science; insect genomics; arthropod; nuclear genome
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hotaling, S.; Kelley, J.L.; Frandsen, P.B. Aquatic Insects Are Dramatically Underrepresented in Genomic Research. Insects 2020, 11, 601. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090601

AMA Style

Hotaling S, Kelley JL, Frandsen PB. Aquatic Insects Are Dramatically Underrepresented in Genomic Research. Insects. 2020; 11(9):601. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090601

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hotaling, Scott; Kelley, Joanna L.; Frandsen, Paul B. 2020. "Aquatic Insects Are Dramatically Underrepresented in Genomic Research" Insects 11, no. 9: 601. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11090601

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