Atta cephalotes sequencing and its importance in research



As it mentioned in other subsections the zompopas(Atta cephalotes), They are a species of interest due to their impact on agriculture in the Neotropics, where is Costa Rica.

 Also, its effects are not only limited to agriculture but also affect the formation of their underground nests can engage considered as heritage structures, as in the example of Guayabo National Monument. These effects have been part of the rationale for sequencing the genome of A. cephalotes.

 The process of sequencing was carried out by a multidisciplinary consortium of partners from various universities in the United States. To perform this task, they were based on 3 samples of adult male insects collected in Panama. Individuals in the first instance they perform a nucleic acid extraction in order to isolate the genetic material of ants.

 The interest in obtaining the genetic material is in state to isolate purified DNA of individuals. It is in the DNA where all the information necessary for the life of an organism is stored and encrypted. Once the sample DNA is purified, it was performed following the sequencing process by pyrosequencing method (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Diagram of simplified processes pyrosequencing method. (A) The genomic material is isolated, fragmented and linked to adapters. (B) fragments bind with beads under conditions that allow that fragment by a bead. This binding fragment is isolated bead-in compartments containing the mixture for amplification of the fragment. After this process each compartment has 10 million copies of the DNA fragment. (C) The emulsion then is separated DNA and beads are deposited are carried on a fiber optic plate. (D) For the beads found in fiber optic plate they are adding smaller beads containing the reagents necessary for the sequencing process. (E) electron microscopy image of the fiber optic plate. (F) Instrument Description pyrosequencing 454, there is an assembly of fluids nucleotides to sequence (i) a flow cell containing plate fiberoptic (ii), and an assembler of images and a computer (iii). Source: Nature Biotechnology.


The idea behind is to decipher as sequencing comprises the DNA of the organism. An interesting analogy could be done with a book. The agency would be the cover and the title, but to know that there must be in the same sequence, ie it would be similar to catalog and organize the letters that make up the entire text. But to understand a book, like the DNA of an organism, it is necessary to know that words are made up each letter in each chapter. This step is carried out through a process called annotation.

 Atta cepahlotes genome was annotated by a line of bioinformatic processes (new field that merges computer science with knowledge of biology), and purified by use of known sequences of organisms biologically related. But the key question is: what is the importance of obtaining and understanding the genome of zompopas? The answers are many, but let's focus on a topic of central concern. At the beginning of the text the impact of zompopas in agro-systems mentioned Neotropics. Traditionally pest control is based on the use of chemical compounds which have very high levels of toxicity, in addition to accumulate in the environment (groundwater, soil) so they are a danger to the environment and human health.

 In addition, insects have a very interesting feature, are capable of generating resistance to these compounds at high speed. Because this is that searched based on the silencing of gene expression solutions. This line of research is based on finding RNA complementary to transcripts of the gene, which after a series of enzymatic processes become short sequences that are to be joined to the messenger RNA synthesized by the gene from Atta cephalotes and van affect its expression, but not eliminate it.

This type of strategy is novel, and to identify candidate genes to silence. To get to this point then you should sequence and annotate the genome of the Zompopa. From here then it understands the role of the genome sequencing process which fulfills its functions to allow A. cepahlotes understand not only at the biological level but also on genetic, and with this we open up opportunities to learn more about this interesting organism and to generate a new line of applied research that seeks to use knowledge of the body to carry out an integrated pest balanced and sustainable environment management and organization.