Tsetse team: Pitching in to crack genetic code of deadly fly

A 10-year international project whose participants included an OARDC scientist and his labmates has made the cover of one of the world’s top scientific journals.

More than 140 scientists from 18 countries, including Dave Denlinger (pictured, right), professor in the Department of Entomology, analyzed the genome of the bloodsucking tsetse fly, which spreads the tropical disease called human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness. An article on their findings was featured on the cover of the April 25, 2014, issue of Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“Though human African trypanosomiasis affects thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa, the absence of a genome-wide map of tsetse biology was a major hindrance for identifying vulnerabilities,” said Yale University’s Serap Aksoy, a co-senior author, in a Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute press release. “This community of researchers across Africa, Europe, North America and Asia has created a valuable research tool for tackling the devastating spread of sleeping sickness.”

“This community of researchers has created a valuable research tool for tackling the devastating spread of sleeping sickness.”—Serap Aksoy

Breakthrough is featured on top journal’s cover

  • Also participating in the project were Justin Peyton (left), Megan Meuti (second from left), Qirui Zhang (second from right), Cheolho Sim and Josh Benoit, all current or former graduate students or postdoctoral researchers in Denlinger’s lab.
  • Sleeping sickness occurs only in 36 sub-Saharan Africa countries where there are tsetse flies that transmit the disease, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet. Some 70 million people there are at risk.
  • WHO lists sleeping sickness as a “neglected tropical disease” and has set a goal to eradicate it.
  • Without treatment, sleeping sickness is fatal.
  • To contact the scientist: Dave Denliger at denlinger.1@osu.edu.

Read more here and here …