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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.


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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