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Annu Rev Entomol. 2005;50:71-100.

The genetics and genomics of the silkworm, Bombyx mori.

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  • 1Biological Sciences Department, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, Rhode Island 02881, USA. mki101@uri.edu


We review progress in applying molecular genetic and genomic technologies to studies in the domesticated silkworm, Bombyx mori, highlighting its use as a model for Lepidoptera, and in sericulture and biotechnology. Dense molecular linkage maps are being integrated with classical linkage maps for positional cloning and marker-assisted selection. Classical mutations have been identified by a candidate gene approach. Cytogenetic and sequence analyses show that the W chromosome is composed largely of nested full-length long terminal repeat retrotransposons. Z-chromosome-linked sequences show a lack of dosage compensation. The downstream sex differentiation mechanism has been studied via the silkworm homolog of doublesex. Expressed sequence tagged databases have been used to discover Lepidoptera-specific genes, provide evidence for horizontal gene transfer, and construct microarrays. Physical maps using large-fragment bacterial artificial chromosome libraries have been constructed, and whole-genome shotgun sequencing is underway. Germline transformation and transient expression systems are well established and available for functional studies, high-level protein expression, and gene silencing via RNA interference.

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