The first invertebrate-themed Ensembl Rapid Release is out!

We are pleased to announce that Ensembl Rapid Release 40 with 94 new genomes is now live! With Rapid Release 40, we also introduce the first of many invertebrate-themed Ensembl Rapid Releases. The inaugural theme has an emphasis on scientific advancements in global food security. We have added 21 agriculturally significant insect species, which include organisms viewed as priorities in the pursuit of boosting fundamental biological understanding and insights into biological control mechanisms, both indispensable to increase global food production and availability.

The majority of these genomes made available as part of Ensembl Rapid Release’s themed release, were made possible by the Pest Genome Initiative (PGI), a collaborative effort between Bayer, Rothamsted Research, Syngenta and supported by the EMBL-EBI Industry programme in an ongoing effort to support academic work on agriculturally important species. 

Here are some some key examples, highlighting the significance of these new genomic resources:

Aphis gossypii (Cotton aphid)

A true bug (Order: Hemiptera), this aphid is a pest with a worldwide distribution. A. gossypii is known to affect over 700 different plant species, owing to their extremely polyphagous feeding behaviour. Cotton aphids are known pests of such crops including potato, citrus, coffee and melon; though they are key pests of both cotton and cucurbits, especially cucumber.  

Chilo suppressalis (Striped rice stemborer)

A moth species (Order: Lepidoptera) which is an important pest of rice crops. With a distribution across China, India, South East Asia, Iran and southern Europe this pest is characterised by its ability to evade common employed methods of pest suppression such as pesticides, in part linked to its irregular ontogeny life cycle. In Asia, C. suppressalis is partly responsible for a steady annual damage of 5-10% of the rice crop, with occasional localised outbreaks of up to 60%. 

Phyllotreta striolata (The Striped flea beetle)

This beetle (Order: Coleoptera), originally Eurasian in origin now occurs throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and the US. Damage to host plants is predominantly linked to feeding on foliage by adult beetles, leading to desiccation and ultimately leaf drop. Flea beetles are highly adapted to feed on crucifer plants (cabbages and other brassicas); aided by biochemical adaptations allowing them to effectively deal with plant toxin defences. 

The following species relevant in food security have also been added: 

  • Agriotes lineatus (Lined click beetle)
  • Bicyclus anynana (Squinting bush brown)
  • Brassicogethes aeneus (Rapeseed pollen beetle)
  • Ceutorhynchus assimilis (Seedpod weevil)
  • Chironomus riparius (Harlequin fly)
  • Chrysodeixis includens (Soybean looper)
  • Diabrotica balteata (Cucumber beetle)
  • Diatraea saccharalis (Sugar cane borer)
  • Euschistus heros (Neotropical brown stink bug)
  • Frankliniella occidentalis (Western flower thrips)
  • Microctonus brassicae (Parasitoid wasp)
  • Myzus persicae (Green peach aphid)
  • Nezara viridula (Southern green stink bug)
  • Phaedon cochleariae (Mustard beetle)
  • Psylliodes chrysocephala (Cabbage stem flea beetle)
  • Sphaerophoria rueppellii (European Hoverfly)
  • Spodoptera frugiperda (Fall armyworm)
  • Spodoptera littoralis (African cotton leafworm)

In addition to the 21 agriculturally significant insect species, we have also added 5 fish, 2 mammalian and 3 rodent genomes. Visit the Ensembl Rapid Release species list to see the full list of genomes available.