i5K: Hackberry petiole gall psyllid
Hackberry petiole gall psyllid (Pachypsylla venusta)
Hackberry petiole gall psyllid
Image source: Daniel Sloan
Contact: Daniel Sloan
Researchers involved: 20
Size (or size of nearest relative): 724 MBp
Keywords (and why important): Novel Chemistry, Novel Metabolic Process, (model organism).
Pachypyslla venusta is a gall-forming psyllid (Insecta: Hemiptera) specializing on hackberry trees, which are widely distributed in the United States.
Like many closely-related hemipterans such as whiteflies, aphids, and mealybugs, psyllids have a nutritionally imbalanced diet consisting primarily of plant sap. To compensate for the paucity of essential amino acids and other required nutrients in their diets, these insects have evolved ancient and intimate symbiotic relationships with intracellular bacteria that are capable of synthesizing these compounds.
The genome of the bacterial symbiont Carsonella from Pachypyslla venusta has been sequenced and represents one of the most extreme cases of genome reduction ever identified. At only 160 kb in size, this bacterial genome lacks many genes thought to be essential for cellular life, making this system an important model for elucidating the genomic mechanisms of host-symbiont interactions.
A complete genome from this gall-forming psyllid will also provide a valuable resource for investigating plant-insect interactions and gall-induction.