Research Article

Genome Sequence of the Tsetse Fly (Glossina morsitans): Vector of African Trypanosomiasis

Science  25 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6182, pp. 380-386
DOI: 10.1126/science.1249656

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Africa's Bane

Tsetse are blood-feeding, fast-flying flies that transmit a range of Trypanosoma spp. protozoan pathogens, which cause sleeping sickness in humans and their nagana in their livestock. The International GlossinaGenome Initiative (p. 380) sequenced the genome of Glossina morsitans and identified the genes for many attributes of the tsetse's remarkable biology, including viviparity and the expression of analogs of mammalian milk proteins. Tsetse are host to several specific symbionts that appear to synthesize essential nutrients for the fly and also to hitherto undiscovered parasitoid-derived viruses. Deeper exploration of this genome will reveal what makes these fly species so host- and trypanosome specific.


Tsetse flies are the sole vectors of human African trypanosomiasis throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Both sexes of adult tsetse feed exclusively on blood and contribute to disease transmission. Notable differences between tsetse and other disease vectors include obligate microbial symbioses, viviparous reproduction, and lactation. Here, we describe the sequence and annotation of the 366-megabase Glossina morsitans morsitans genome. Analysis of the genome and the 12,308 predicted protein–encoding genes led to multiple discoveries, including chromosomal integrations of bacterial (Wolbachia) genome sequences, a family of lactation-specific proteins, reduced complement of host pathogen recognition proteins, and reduced olfaction/chemosensory associated genes. These genome data provide a foundation for research into trypanosomiasis prevention and yield important insights with broad implications for multiple aspects of tsetse biology.

  • * Members of the International Glossina Genome Initiative, affiliations, and individual contributions appear at the end of this paper.

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