The two-spotted spider mite Tetranychus urticae belongs to the second largest group of animals, the Chelicerata, which includes spiders, scorpions, mites, and ticks. As representatives of this basal taxon of arthropods, spider mites are of special importance to several areas of science, including phylogenetics, developmental biology, evolution, ecology, and genomics. The most economically significant chelicerates are spider mites and ticks, which belong to the order Acari. Spider mites represent major pests in agriculture, while ticks are vectors of human diseases, including Lyme disease and haemorrhagic fever. Unfortunately, the developmental genetics of chelicerates is poorly understood and a major obstacle for future progress in many aspects of chelicerate biology is the lack of a model organism in this group. T. urticae has the smallest genome of any arthropod determined so far (75 Mbp, 60% of the size of the Drosophila genome), undergoes rapid development, and is easy to maintain in the lab. These features make T. urticae a great candidate for developing into a chelicerate model system.
Because spider mites are major agricultural pests, they are of substantial economic importance and significance for the biotechnology of pest control and energy conservation. This sequencing proposal has attracted enthusiastic support from a diverse community of researchers, members of fundamental scientific disciplines as well as applied science, including individuals working in pest control and agribusiness. Such broad support guarantees that the spider mite sequencing data will be well utilized.
Principal Investigators: Miodrag Grbic (Univ. of Western Ontario), Maria Navajas (INRA, France), Jeffrey Boore (JGI), Lisa Nagy (Univ. of Arizona), and Andre Pires da Silva (Univ. of Texas at Arlington).