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Dr Peter East
CSIRO Entomology
GPO Box 1700, Canberra, ACT, 2601
Email: peter.east@csiro.au
Tel: +61 (0)2 6246 4127
Fax: +61 (0)2 6246 4173
Homepage: http://www.ento.csiro.au/staffhome/peast.html

Functional genomics has particular promise in agricultural biotechnology for identifying new targets for pest control and for identifying gene/enzyme pathways involved in processes such as insect-pathogen and insect-plant interactions. It is dependant on the availability of relevant genomic or Expressed Sequence Tag (EST) databases and sophisticated bioinformatics tools for database mining. At present opportunities for functional genomics analysis of pest insects are limited by lack of relevant EST databases for gene identification. We have initiated an EST sequencing project to generate representative databases for target tissues from key pest species that will enable future functional genomics studies.
The first major pest species we have selected for this project is Helicoverpa armigera, the cotton bollworm. Many control strategies for this pest are designed around orally-transmitted control agents that target the larval midgut. Our EST work has therefore focussed on the study of genes expressed in midguts of young larvae in order to allow us to identify genes that are important for midgut growth and development, rather than those that are directly involved in digestive processes as are most genes actively expressed at later larval stages. This work has identified that a large number of serine protease isoenzymes are expressed, and a small nnumber of these change in response to inhibitors in the diet. Construction of a H. armigera EST database has been done collaboratively with Zeneca Agrochemicals.

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