Written by Toby Cray
The University of Leicester have published the first study decoding the genome sequencing of locusts, which could help combat locust infestations.
Dr Tom Matheson, co-author of the study, stated:
“The desert locust genome provides key information that could be a complete game-changer for the developing world, and a huge economic step forward for countries struggling to feed their populations.”
A swarm of desert locusts can eat the same amount of food as 35,000 people, and some countries in the developing world have suffered this year from the most devastating locust crises in decades.
This study is hoped to provide the basis for further breakthroughs as Dr Swidbert Ott, co-author of the study, stated:
“We hope that our data can facilitate the development of novel, more sustainable methods of managing swarm outbreaks.
“With the information in our research now available, there is a unique opportunity for innovators to create an intelligent pesticide that targets locusts, but not other insects crucial to the ecosystem, such as pollinators.”
This will not be simple, as Dr Matheson states:
“Tackling locust infestations and controlling swarms will never be easy because of the challenging conditions across the huge areas affected, but with the right information and research at hand, we hope that future approaches can become more effective.”
He added: “If climate change causes locust plagues to become the ‘new normal’, we will need all hands-on deck by way of in-depth research and improved technology to help in the fight to control swarms.”
Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Instagram here: @toby5.c
The full study can be found here: https://f1000research.com/articles/9-775/v1